LINCOLN — Excepting the District IV championship game, a 1-0 triumph over Lincoln last Monday, the Burrillville All-Stars had bulled its way through the tourney, outscoring their opponents by 60-plus runs while posting a perfect 6-0 record.
Mike Cabral’s bunch seemed poised to do the same when the R.I. Little League Major Division Tournament began Saturday afternoon at Lonsdale Elementary School’s Randy Hien Field.
The only problem: Barrington’s best didn’t care.
Righty starter Cabot Maher fired a one-hitter (without a walk) and whiffed a quartet while batterymate Tucker Flint, batting in the eighth spot, finished 2-for-2 with a double, walk, four RBI and two runs scored to pace District II titlist Barrington to an astonishing 10-0 “mercy rule” victory over Burrillville before a crowd of perhaps 300.
The umpiring crew, headed by Matt DeSalvo at the plate, called the contest in the bottom of the fourth when Flint plated Matt Hurley with a one-out, infield ground single, one that caromed off of first baseman Josh Dichiaro’s mitt. The hit came off of reliever Jason Cabral.
Actually, it was Dichiaro who started the game for the District IV champions, but it just wasn’t his day. The righthander lasted just 2 1/3 frames and yielded six hits, nine runs (all earned) and four walks while fanning the same amount.
That wasn’t the lone issue: He also threw five wild offerings, two of which resulted in runs.
“Nerves maybe had a little something to do with it,” Cabral stated after a post-game talk with his boys. “I felt like if (Josh) got out of the first inning under 30 pitches, he’d settle in, but it didn’t work out that way. (He tossed 31).
“I just told them (following the defeat), ‘Hey, you’re not out of it. You’re going to have to fight through the losers’ bracket, and just take it one game at a time.’ I told them they had to keep their heads up and look forward, that this is over with.”
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Noted Barrington skipper Ray Studley: “We knew Josh Dichiaro was very good, that he threw a lot of curves both early and late in the count. I told our guys to watch a lot of pitches, look for a good one to hit. What we did well was we worked him deep into counts.
“After seven or eight-pitch at-bats, we had a couple of hits, and I think that bothered him,” he added. We loaded the bases in three of the four innings, and we were able to manufacture some runs.”
He wasn’t kidding. Barrington got on the board in the first when Dichiaro walked leadoff batter Chase Griffin, but then fanned Jake Studley. Griffin took second on a wild pitch, then came in when No. 3 batter Andy Marra pounded a double down the left-field line.
Matt Hurley then reached on a dropped fly in left, but third baseman Matt Schiffman snagged Colin Scorpio’s grounder and stepped on third for the second out. Sam Jurgeleit walked to load the bags, but Dichiaro struck out Matt Zeleznik to get out of the inning virtually unscathed.
After Maher struck out the side in the second, Barrington went to work, sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring eight runs, though it started innocently enough.
Flint walked to initiate the frame, but Dichiaro fanned Maher. Griffin beat out an infield hit, and Studley’s double to right-center plated Flint and placed Griffin at third. Marra followed with a long RBI single to left, and Studley raced home and Marra to second on another wild delivery.
Scorpio then walked to jam the bases again, and pinch-hitter Matt Carranza drew a base-on-balls to plate Marra. That’s when Flint drilled a bases-clearing two-bagger to left for the 8-0 cushion; he later scored on a third wild pitch before Burrillville mustered the final out.
“Tucker Flint is one of our 11-year-olds, along with Cabot (Maher),” the elder Studley said. “That was a huge double he had in the second, and Cabot pitched a whale of a ballgame. I mean, Burrillville has a potent lineup. I heard they had scored 65 runs (in the District IV Tournament) while only allowing four, so I knew they could rip the ball.
“I had told Cabot beforehand to pound the zone, to be smart with their big hitters and keep the ball down,” he continued. “I also asked him to keep the counts in his favor, and that’s just what he did. Still, we were fortunate.”
In the top of the third, with Dichiaro still on the hill, Griffin roped a liner off of the hurler’s right shoulder. Dichiaro knocked the ball down and threw to first to get the out, but then dropped to the dirt.
“He took that liner in the shoulder area, and he’ll probably have a bruise there,” Cabral offered. “Still, he went to first right after that; he toughed it out.”
Shiffman replaced Dichiaro (who finished with 80 deliveries), and he walked Studley on four pitches before getting out of the frame with a pretty twin killing initiated by shortstop Harry Dumais.
Maher, who had hit Tyler Richards with a pitch with one out in the first, actually retired 10 straight before he gave up his lone hit, a single to Shiffman in the top of the fourth. It seemed as if Justin Krieg had reached on an infield hit to shortstop Griffin, but first-base umpire Chris Mayo called him out on a close play at the bag.
“I don’t think they had so many hits, but we did have some walks; you can’t put so many guys on and expect them not to score,” Cabral said. “They also had some hits with guys on base, so that hurt us, too.
“There were some close plays, and calls that didn’t go our way,” he continued. “That’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
EXTRA BASES: With the loss, Burrillville now will oppose Cranston Western, who suffered a 4-1 defeat to District III titlist Coventry, in a losers’ bracket tilt at Hien Field at 4:30 p.m. today. Barrington, the District II champs and 6-1 in post-season play, will face Coventry at 7 p.m. … The first game will be broadcast live on WOON beginning at 4:20 p.m., and Lou Mandeville will be the play-by-play announcer while Frank Digiacamo will do the color analysis … Before the tourney’s start, Lincoln Town Administrator T. Joseph Almond, Lincoln Little League President John Sharkey and NBC-10 Sports Announcer Frank Carpano welcomed fans to Hien Field. They also honored the site’s namesake, Randy Hien, who with son Charlie coached the Lincoln All-Stars for years. Sharkey stated the late Hien was born on July 21, 1949, and it was only fitting the first state event to be held in Lincoln came on his 63rd birthday … Hurley received Offensive Player of the Game honors, while Maher captured the defensive laurel.