Smithfield U9s take ‘Last Summer Swing’ title

Smithfield U9s take ‘Last Summer Swing’ title

The members of the Smithfield Little League’s U9 all-star baseball team do their best to practice social distancing as they pose for a picture after defeating East Bay, 10-2, in Sunday afternoon’s championship game at Whipple Field. The members of the team, which went 4-0 in the tournament, are, in front from left, John Wozniak, Connor Queenan, John Tsonos, Mason Dionne, Rocco Presciutti, and Royce Aglione; in middle row, Tyler Sweet, Brady McShane, Connor Curtis, Gavin Gibree, and Henry Begnoche; in back, coaches Guy Aglione, Justin McShane, and Steve Curtis and manager Eric Gibree. (Breeze photo by Eric Benevides)
All-stars win all four tournament games, grab 10-2 victory over East Bay in championship game

SMITHFIELD – The Smithfield Little League’s U9 all-star baseball team certainly felt right at home at last weekend’s “Last Summer Swing” Tournament at Whipple Field.

Smithfield turned in a tremendous performance in winning all four of its games, and the hosts raised their game a few notches in Sunday afternoon’s championship game by rolling to a 10-2 victory over East Bay.

“I’ll absolutely take it,” Smithfield manager Eric Gibree said when asked about his team’s 4-0 record, which saw Smithfield total 36 hits and 26 walks in outscoring its four opponents, 40-13. “They played hard and they listened, and they’re a very good group of kids. I’ve coached most of them for three or four years now, so I know what to expect from them and vice versa, and we work well together.”

Sunday’s final score certainly surprised Gibree, who 24 hours earlier, saw his team hold off East Bay, 8-7, in an exciting affair that saw East Bay score five runs in the top of the sixth inning to claim a 7-5 lead, but Smithfield walk off with the ‘W’ in the bottom of the sixth by rallying for three runs.

The Valley Breeze is committed to keeping quality news stories like this one free to our readers. You can be a huge part of this local journalism success story by making a one-time or monthly contribution to what we do every week. Thank you as always for reading.

Expecting another down-to-the-wire battle, Gibree instead saw his ballclub erase a 1-0 deficit by scoring twice in the bottom of the first inning, three runs in the second, and five more in the third.

“We had our pitching lined up,” Gibree said after posing for a post-game picture with his team underneath the scoreboard in left field. “We spread it out pretty well, so we knew our two better pitchers had a ton of innings left, and (East Bay) just looked like they ran out of gas. And they’re a very good team.”

Starting pitcher Brady McShane and reliever Connor Curtis provided Smithfield with some outstanding pitching by joining forces to throw a four-hitter. McShane picked up the win by working the first four innings, striking out seven batters and allowing East Bay’s runs in the first and third innings, and Curtis pitched two hitless innings, striking out five.

Offensively, Connor Queenan had a nice game atop the lineup by going 2-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored. McShane singled, doubled, and drove in two runs, Henry Begnoche socked two doubles, and Royce Aglione singled and walked twice.

Smithfield kicked off the tournament last Friday night by cruising to an 11-0 victory over Burrillville that was halted after 3½ innings by the mercy rule and saw Tyler Sweet and Rocco Presciutti team up to pitch a two-hitter and strike out five batters. Smithfield only had seven hits in this game, two of them coming from McShane, but the team also drew seven walks.

In Smithfield’s 8-7 triumph over East Bay, Curtis scored three runs, and along with John Tsonos, collected multiple hits. And a couple of hours after that win, Smithfield wrapped up pool play by grabbing an 11-4 victory over Lincoln, as Queenan enjoyed an excellent game that saw him go 4-for-4 with a double.

The winning pitcher in that game was Gavin Gibree, who worked the first four innings, and he also singled and walked twice at the plate. Curtis added two hits and also pitched a scoreless fifth inning, and John Wozniak closed out the victory on the mound.

Unfortunately for Smithfield, the news wasn’t as good for its U10 team, which posted a 1-2 record that included a 16-5 loss to Narragansett, a wild 14-10 victory over Burrillville, and an 11-0 defeat to Lincoln in Sunday’s third-place consolation game.

As for the “Last Summer Swing” Tournament, the U11 and U12 all-star teams will be in action this weekend at Whipple Field, with the pool play games beginning on Friday at 5:15 p.m. and continuing on Saturday. The consolation and championship games are scheduled for Sunday.

Smithfield, Lincoln, and Cumberland will field teams in both tournaments. The Scituate Foster Little League will have a team in the U11 tourney, and Burrillville and Woonsocket will also send teams to the U12 event.