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Extra-base hits fuel CALL's victory over Bernon

July 6, 2012

Cumberland American’s Owen Paine (right) strolls into second base with a two-run double as Bernon shortstop Harrison Blais awaits the throws there in the top of the second inning of Friday night’s game at Ayotte Field.

WOONSOCKET — Cumberland American All-Stars skipper Bruce Stanford knew he had a decent-hitting club, but nothing like this.
His Nos. 4, 5 and 7 hitters finished 10-for-10 with nine RBI and eight runs scored as CALL rolled to a wildly-entertaining 12-6 victory over Bernon’s best in a R.I. District IV Major Division Tournament Pool B tilt at Ayotte Field on Friday night.
It gets better: Of the 13 hits Cumberland American clubbed, a whopping nine went for extra bases. Clean-up hitter Ben Brakenwagen went 3-3 with two doubles, a homer, an RBI and four runs scored, and – right behind him – starting pitcher Mike DeBlois closed at 4-for-4 with a pair of two-baggers, a dinger, five RBI and two runs.
No. 7 batter Owen Paine went 3-for-3, with a trio of RBI and two runs as CALL improved to 2-1 in pool action.
“Wow! That’s an amazing stat!” the elder Stanford responded after being told the threesome’s aggregate numbers. “After the game, I told them it was an awesome win, a great team win. We had some mistakes out there, like not communicating, and we’re going to have to work on that, but overall we played really well.
“I thought we came out a little nervous, a little jittery, but we kept telling them to stay focused, keep the heads in the game and good things would happen. I also said that they can enjoy the win (Friday night) all they want, but, basically, I want them at practice (today) at 8 a.m. We’re going right back at it.”
CALL will return to pool play at 5:30 p.m., Monday; that’s when it faces rival Cumberland National at Garvin Field.
Bernon, which fell to 0-2, will host Scituate/Foster, also winless in two games, at the same time Monday.
“Are you kidding? Did they?” asked Bernon head coach Willie Houle in regard to the stats registered by the trio. “I still give our kids credit. We played Cumberland National tight last Tuesday night; we lost 7-0, but we came back against American and kept battling.
“Actually, last year, we were the only team (in District IV action) to come close to beating them,” he continued. “I think we only lost by a couple of runs, and that’s the same team that won the New England championship and went to Williamsport.”
After a shaky first frame on both sides – call it the ol’ nervous butterflies – CALL mustered a pair in the top of the second off of southpaw Wandell Felix. Drakenwagen ripped a double to right-center on the first pitch, DeBlois singled him to third and – with one out – Paine’s two-bagger to right-center scored both.
Undaunted, Bernon notched three in the bottom half to take the 3-2 lead. DeBlois issued a leadoff walk to Jared Briere, and Quirindongo rapped a single to center, one that was misplayed and rolled to the fence. Briere scored with ease and Quirindongo raced to third.
DeBlois actually whiffed Elijah McDowell, but – when the third strike bounced past catcher Matt Rockefeller – he sprinted to first on the miscue. With one out, Zack Harnois crushed a double down the left-field line to plate both.
CALL regained the lead at 4-3 in the third after recording a pair. Rockefeller had drawn a lead walk, but Alex Esposito popped out to first baseman Briere, who promptly tagged the bag for the unassisted twin killing.
Lucas Pontbriant, however, walked, took third on Drakenwagen’s double to center, and that duo came across on DeBlois’ initial two-bagger.
Like the previous two frames, Stanford’s bunch manufactured another two in the fourth. Paine opened with a hit to left, and – following two quick outs – Rockefeller hammered a blast about 210 feet to right-center.
Again, though, Bernon spoiled the flurry with one of its own. Quirindongo started the fourth with a bloop double to center, one that fell between second baseman Colin Langton and shortstop Drakenwagen, then scored on McDowell’s single to right-center. (He was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double).
Pinch-hitter Matt Jarret drew a base-on-balls and took second on a passed ball before DeBlois hit Harrison Blais with a pitch.
Colin Godfrin’s double to deep left drove in Jarret and Blais, and the three runs knotted it at 6-6.
The tie didn’t last long, as Drakenwagen walloped a 2-0 Felix delivery over an 18-wheel tractor trailer stationed beyond the right-center fence to start the fifth. (It traveled a minimum of 260 feet).
That’s when Houle opted to replace Felix with Blais. (Felix, by the way, lasted four-plus innings, yielding nine hits, seven runs (all earned), two walks, a pair of wild pitches while fanning a quintet).
After Jordan Stanford had seemingly beat out an infield single but was called out, DeBlois tagged a dinger approximately 225 feet over the wall in left, and Paine responded with one of his own, to virtually the same spot for the 9-6 advantage.
“I was just looking for a few base hits to get more runs across,” Coach Stanford said. “I wanted to nickel and dime them. I don’t push the long ball; I just think that will come on its own, but – boy – did we do that in the fifth. It was nice to see.”
Cumberland American tacked on three insurance runs in the sixth off of Blais. Drew Szafranski drew a one-out walk and moved to third on Pontbriant’s hit to left (he took second on the throw home) before both scored on DeBlois’ second double, this to deep left.
With the bases jammed, Larson drew a two-out walk to plate Drakenwagen.
Outside of CALL’s “Big Three,” which batted an uncanny 1.000, their remaining players recorded an average of only .150.
On the hill, DeBlois lasted four innings (with a pitch count of 83, just two below the Little League mandate) and allowed five hits, six runs (four earned) and three walks while fanning a half-dozen. He also hit a batter.
As for Pontbriant, he allowed only one hit and two walks while striking out three in his two-frame appearance.
“Mike has been really solid for us,” Stanford noted. “He just does what he has to do: Keep us in games. As for Lucas, it was good to see him get some work. He kept the momentum from shifting, which it could’ve done easily.
“Bernon is a team that plays hard all the time, never gives up,” he added. “They kept plugging.”
Offered Houle: The home-run ball killed us, no ifs, ands or buts about that. We just didn’t hit the ball. We’ve got to swing at two-strike pitches, and that’s something we could’ve been better at.”

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