LINCOLN — Navigant Post 85 of Woonsocket utilized a superlative mound performance by southpaw Aaron Catarina, not to mention a monumental two-run double by former Woonsocket High star Andreas Brackett in an eight-run fourth frame, to register a solid 9-4 victory over rival Upper Deck Post 86/14 at Chet Nichols Memorial Field on Thursday night.
Catarina (2-1) earned the triumph after yielding only one hit in his four-inning stint. He did issues eight walks, but also struck out a pair.
With the win, Navigant not only improved to 14-5 in R.I. American Legion North Division action, but also dropped Upper Deck to 13-5 (18-6 overall).
“With our (2-1) victory (Wednesday) night, we now hold the tiebreaker, as we've beaten Upper Deck twice,” co-skipper Jim Gauthier stated afterward. “If we beat R&R Construction (of Newport at 7 tonight), we'll clinch a first-round playoff bye, and that's what we've been looking for all along.”
Post 85 gained its initial run off of eventual losing pitcher Doug Harrison in the top of the third when John Almeida opened with an opposite-field ground single to right, stole second, took third on E.J. Torres' one-out base hit to center and scored when Victor Hunt drew a bases-loaded walk.
After shutting the door on a possible Upper Deck flurry in the back half, Navigant struck for eight runs in the fourth; it was rather reminiscent of the rally Post 86-14 assembled in the fifth inning (scoring nine runs without benefit of a hit in an eventual 11-6 triumph) on Monday night.
Kory Lawrence started the surge with a double to deep left-center, and he hustled to third when Matt LaButti (off of reliever Ryan O'Neill) beat out a fielder's choice. Almeida walked to fill the bases, and Andino did the same to score Lawrence.
O'Neill then fanned Torres, but he hit Tyler Geffert with an offering to score LaButti, and Matt Bare reached on an infield miscue to knock home Almeida. O'Neill then walked Hunt for his second RBI before Brackett seared his two-run double to left and give Navigant a 7-0 advantage.
Lawrence followed with a RBI single to score Hunt, and LaButti's hit to left plated Brackett.
Suddenly, Post 85 held a 9-0 lead.
Upper Deck broke the shutout when Pete Traves walked, moved to second on a wild pitch from Catarina, trotted to third on Sam Brito's free pass and scored on Josh Brodeur's seeing-eye, soft ground single, one that failed to reach the outfield grass.
It also mustered another in the fifth after Christian Spader drew a walk, robbed second and scored on Alec Cronan's key (and crushed) double to the gap in left-center, though Post 85 later squelched the rally.
Jon Flynn hurled two stellar frames of relief, yielding one hit, an earned run and three walks while striking out a trio. Matt LaButti did surrender two runs in the back half of the seventh, but struck out the side after that.
In the end, Harrison didn't pitch poorly; he scattered just four hits in all, yielded two runs (both earned) and three walks while fanning a pair in three-plus innings. He nevertheless took the loss.