BURRILLVILLE -- During the regular season, Burrillville Little League doesn’t allow its pitchers to throw curveballs, and that remains baffling to All-Stars’ skipper Bob Gelinas.
Still, he took great measures to prepare his mound staff for the start of the R.I. District IV Major Division (11-12) All-Star Tournament at Sherman Park’s Rymanski Field on Saturday afternoon.
“The last couple of weeks during practice, I’ve been working with them; everyone in the district allows the kids to throw (breakers), so it’s definitely a disadvantage to us,” Gelinas stated. “We don’t have a lot of time to prepare them.”
That was hardly evident during Burrillville’s rather easy 13-6 dismissal of Bernon. Keith Doucette, Jake Gelinas and Brennan Richards combined for a six-hitter and just three walks while fanning a dozen to help Burrillville move a step closer to the districts’ Final Four.
Likewise, Burrillville bashed a whopping 18 hits off of three Bernon hurlers – six of them for extra bases. Five batters recorded two RBI each, including Cameron Toti (2-for-4, double, run); Kyle Pelletier (2-for-5, homer, two runs); Cam Stringfellow (3-for-4, dinger, two runs); Colin Kennedy (3-for-5, two doubles, run); and Brennan Richards (2-for-3, run).
Jake Gelinas also chipped in a 3-for-5, two-run outing, while starting pitcher Keith Doucette added a pair of hits and a couple of runs.
Bernon’s righty Harrison Blais took the loss after yielding eight hits, seven runs (five earned) and four walks while striking out a quartet in 3 1/3 innings. The younger Gelinas accepted the win, yielding just one hit and fanning five in 2 1/3.
“We’ve put a lot of time into our hitting, two hours every day,” Coach Gelinas stated matter-of-factly. “We had Jay Cabral and Josh Dichario, a couple of All-Stars from last year, come down to pitch to our kids; they were here maybe two or three times a week.
“The fact they play in middle school now helped a lot,” he added. “We feel that no one in the district throws as hard as Josh, so I’m not surprised we hit the ball so well. The offense came up huge for us.”
Burrillville’s best will try to continue its win streak when it hosts Cumberland National, an 8-2 victor over North Smithfield, in another preliminary Pool B tilt at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday.
Bernon (0-1) will travel to Glocester for another Pool B game at the same time.
The hosts, who also were the visitors courtesy of a coin toss, jumped out to a 3-0 advantage in the top of the first. Leadoff batter Gelinas beat out an infield hit, then took second on a passed ball and third on Blais’ wild offering before scoring on Toti’s double, one that one-hopped the center-field fence.
Ryan Lockwood walked, as did Stringfellow, before both raced in on Kennedy’s two-run up the middle.
Burrillville added another in the second when Gelinas knocked a hit to center, moved to second on Toti’s walk and scored on an infield miscue. When Toti tried to score on an additional outfield error, however, Bernon’s Jean-Carlos Feliciano mustered a fine throw to catcher Stan Koss, who calmly applied the tag.
Bernon refused to yield, assembling a rally that sent nine to the plate in the back half of the third – and it earned them a 5-4 cushion. Baye Lo opened the surge with a bloop hit to left, then took second on Chris Vallee’s walk before both moved up on a passed ball.
Feliciano reached on an infield error, plating Lo, and Harnois walked to load the bases before Dan Castillo’s free bag scored Vallee.
The bags still juiced, Blais poked a sacrifice fly to center to knock in Feliciano; that’s when Coach Gelinas’ crew received a gift, Germani Jarrie earned first on a catcher’s interference call to reload the bases.
Godfin rapped a two-run single to left, and – suddenly – Bernon not only led, but Doucette had reached 66 pitches, and Gelinas opted to replace him with his son, who forced Nate Asstafan to bounce into a force at the plate.
Burrillville responded with five of their own in the fourth with an 11-batter rotation to regain the lead at 9-4.
Blais whiffed Toti to begin the frame, but Lockwood hustled out an infield hit, then moved to second on a wild pitch. Pelletier almost immediately peppered a two-run blast to right-center, and Stringfellow reached on another infield miscue.
At that point, Bernon manager Willie Houle replaced Blais with Godfin, and he allowed
Kennedy a double to virtually the same spot as Pelletier’s wallop, though shorter (it only struck the wall). Both scored on Richards’ single to the right-center hole. Once Doucette singled and Marcus Audet walked to jam the diamond once more, Houle moved to righty reliever Harnois, who allowed Toti an RBI hit to center.
Harnois, however, whiffed Lockwood for the final out.
Burrillville struck for another quartet in the fifth – a Pelletier single and Stringfellow smash inside the right-field foul pole provided the first two, while Richards (hit) and Doucette (walk) scored after Toti reached on a liner off the second baseman’s glove.
Richards struck out Godfin, who led the sixth, but then hit both Lo and Koss. Latrell Lopez then drilled a single to plate Lo, but Richards got out of the jam after whiffing both Harnois and Gomes.
“Our pitchers are very confident, and it’s because they’ve been together since they were eight years old,” Coach Gelinas noted. “Keith is one of our aces, and he threw a good knuckler. We’ve been working with him on that, as well as his curve and two-seamer and four-seamer.
“I think Keith got a little rattled out there in the third, and that’s why they scored,” he added. “I knew I had Jake in my back pocket, someone I could rely on, and he pitched great. That was due to his command, control and composure as a pitcher. His curve was pretty good.”
Offered Bernon assistant Keith Plante: “Scoring those five runs in the third lifted our spirits, no question. But we had some errors in the field, and that helped them load the bases on several occasions. When they did that, they hit the ball to the fences; they were really hard shots.
“We tried to fight back, but they tacked on those runs in the fourth and fifth, and we couldn’t keep up.”
Burrillville 310 540 -- 13 – 18 – 1
Bernon 005 001 -- 6 – 6 – 5
Keith Doucette, Jake Gelinas (4), Brennan Richards (6) and Kyle Pelletier. Harrison Blais, Colin Godfin (4), Zach Harnois (4) and Stan Koss, Blais (4) and Germani Jarrie (6). 2B – Cameron Toti, Cam Stringfellow, Colin Kennedy 2. HR – Pelletier, Stringfellow.