Lincoln wins District IV ages 9-11 title

Lincoln wins District IV ages 9-11 title

The scoreboard tells the story as the Lincoln Little League’s Major Division ages 9-11 all-star baseball team poses for a picture with its District IV championship banner after defeating Cumberland in the title game at Smithfield’s Whipple Field. The members of the team are, in front from left, Jake Longo, Aaron DeMarco, Zander Dubois, Chance Paquette, Logan Xiarhos, Noah Champagne, Ethan Cline, Ashton Robert, Liam Mulligan, Braden Lynch, Connor Valois, and Zack DiMario; in back, manager Rob Sharkey and coaches Damien Longo and Joel DeMarco.
Little League all-stars head to Westerly for state tourney, face Warwick on Saturday

SMITHFIELD – It’s been a tradition each summer to see multiple Little League teams from Cumberland and Lincoln capture District IV championships and advance to the state tournament.

But for the second straight season, the neighboring leagues were only able to produce one championship team – in the ages 9-11 division.

After outscoring its three opponents in pool play by a 40-5 margin, the Lincoln Little League all-stars kept their foot on the accelerator in its championship game against Cumberland on Sunday morning at Whipple Field and rolled to an 11-0 victory that was halted after four innings by the mercy rule.

Logan Xiarhos supplied the heroics by pitching a no-hitter that included seven strikeouts – including six in a row early in the game – and four walks, and Lincoln backed him nicely by playing errorless defense, pounding out 10 hits, and scoring five runs in the opening innings and two in each of the next three.

Lincoln will now advance to the double-elimination state tournament at Westerly National’s Trombino Field and face District III champion Warwick Continental in its opening game on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Playing in the tourney opener at 2 p.m. will be District I champion Cranston Western and District II champion Bristol.

The winners of those game will play each other on Sunday at 4:30 p.m., while the losing teams will battle at 2 p.m. The championship game is scheduled for Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., and should a winner-take-all game be necessary, it will be held the following night.

The chance to play for a state tournament certainly thrilled Lincoln head coach Rob Sharkey, who has seen his fair share of postseason action through the years, “and it’s great to see these kids get the same kind of Lincoln Little League experience I had when I played,” he said.

Lincoln, which has rolled to a 9-2 victory over Cumberland five days earlier in their pool play finale, saw a few players lead the way offensively in Sunday’s title game. Chance Paquette went 3-for-3 with a double and two runs batted in; Braden Lynch added a single, double, and two RBIs, and Ashton Robert, Lynch, Xiarhos, and Paquette each scored twice.

Last weekend was certainly a difficult one for Cumberland, which not only lost in the 9-11 finals to Lincoln, but also fell to Smithfield in the 8-10 and 11-12 championship games.

The Cumberland 8-10s played well enough to stop Smithfield in their title game last Saturday afternoon, which was interrupted three times by rain delays, but Smithfield used a four-run rally in the top of the second inning to squeak out a 5-3 victory.

Cumberland had entered the game with a 4-0 record that included an 8-2 victory over Smithfield in their pool play finale on July 11, but could only manage to collect four hits off Smithfield starting pitcher Brady McShane and reliever Mason Dionne. One of the hits was a two-run single by Pedro Cardoso in the bottom of the second that cut Cumberland’s deficit to a run.

In the 11-12 championship game on Sunday afternoon, Smithfield captured its first District IV title since 1987 by riding the complete-game effort of pitcher Tucker Byrnes and a four-run rally in the top of the third inning to an 8-2 victory.

Smithfield had taken a 2-0 lead before Cumberland knotted the score in the bottom of the second on a run-scoring groundout by Lucas Balcarcel and an RBI single to center field by Dylan Slack.

But then came the fateful third inning, and three errors in that frame helped Smithfield produce its runs.

Cumberland, which collected seven hits off Byrnes, left runners on second and third in the third inning and tried to get something going in the fifth when Andrew Tomlinson and Tyler Reynolds led off the inning with infield hits, but they were also stranded on base. Smithfield also helped its cause by turning three double plays.

Cumberland was seeking its seventh district title since 2007.