Riverside/EP Central LL outlasts Darlington in 2-1 Extra Inning Win
Jacob Sousa scores winning run in 7th
Rumford-Riverside/EP in semi-final clash at the Rock on July 13th 5:45 pm
The District Two little league major division game between Riverside/EP Central and Darlington American of Pawtucket, took two days to complete, due to thunderstorms in the area but ended in exciting fashion Wednesday night (July 7th) when the East Providence team came from behind to win 2-1 in extra innings. After a Tuesday storm suspended the Tuesday night game after 3 innings, play continued Wednesday as neither team scored a run. Wednesday’s start was delayed 15 minutes as league officials ironed out a national LL policy limiting baseballs thrown by pitchers and catchers. On Tuesday, Riverside/EP Central’s starting pitcher Jonathan Renaud, threw 43 pitches in shutting out Darlington for three innings. Officials agreed that he couldn’t pitch in successive days as he was a couple pitches over the limit for back-to-back games. Because Renaud is also a top catcher, there was uncertainty if he could even catch. A local official deemed Renaud could not catch but a phone call to district officials in Bristol, Connecticut ruled that he could indeed catch. Later in the game Renaud would prove his worth as on a wild pitch, he grabbed the ball and threw out the Darlington player trying to steal second base. The out cut down a runner in potential scoring position in the 4th inning with still no score.
Darlington next loaded the bases in the 4th inning and coach Vin Enright made a pitching change bringing in Owen Richards. Richards pitched well under pressure and induced a ground ball to shortstop Aiden Martins who made a great grab and unassisted out at 2nd base to end the threat. Darlington stopped Riverside/EP Central in the bottom of the 5th. The Riverside/EP Central team left the bases loaded and the game remained tied going into the 6th inning (LL majors play 6 inning games).
The game was well played and continued scoreless until Darlington broke the ice and scored a run in the top of the 6th and last inning. In the meantime, the sky darkened, and lightning was seen in the distance. The field lights were on. With two outs and a 3-2 count on the Darlington hitter, a long double brought in the game’s first run. Alex Enright was brought in to pitch. However, with two outs and a potential game winning runner on 2nd base, Darlington moved the runner to third on a wild pitch but failed to score as Enright struck out the next batter stranding the baserunners.
Riverside/EP Central was down to its final three outs. They were not to be denied. A large crowd urged on their team as after one out, Jonathan Renaud lashed a double to deep center field. Slugger Aiden Martins was walked intentionally for the 2nd night in a row and represented the potential winning run on 1st base. The speedy Renaud stole 3rd base with Martins taking 2nd. Darlington made a pitching change. Parker Andrews put down a perfect bunt to load the bases, but another bunt attempt ended in an out at the plate. However, baserunner Martins stunned Darlington as he executed a perfect surprise delayed steal of home (something he has done often during the season) and the game was now tied at one.
Enright stayed on the mound in the top of the 7th and he quickly recorded two strikeouts. A walk and then a ground ball infield out stopped Darlington. With the weather looking ominous Riverside/EP Central knew they had to do something quick. With one out, Jacob Sousa walked and Owen Richards ripped a line drive single to left as Sousa moved to 2nd base. Another Darlington pitching change and the game ended on a heads up play by Riverside/EP Central. Enright ran to first safely on a dropped third strike by the catcher and Sousa wisely took off for home scoring the winning run. The crowd roared its approval and the winning team mobbed each other and Sousa on the field.
“Our team played a well-balanced game and never gives up,” said winning coach Vincent Enright after the game. “A real strength for us is determination and drive. One pitch, one play, one game at a time,” said Enright. The win, Riverside’s third in all-star play, set up an anticipated match against cross-town rival Rumford LL. Rumford has defeated Warren and Barrington so far while Riverside/EP Central has impressive (mercy) wins over Tiverton/Little Compton and Newport and the thriller against Darlington Americans of Pawtucket.
In a rain shortened 4 inning game on Tuesday, a strong Rumford team defeated Warren 2-0. Both East Providence teams are undefeated and remain in the winner’s bracket. The Rumford-Riverside/EP Central match will be played on Tuesday, July 13th at the Kimberly Rock LL complex off Ferris Road in Rumford, RI at 5:45 PM. “Congrats to both Riverside/Central and Rumford Major Allstars on making it to the semifinals against each other Tuesday 7/13 @ the Rock! This is a win for the Townies! Goodluck to both teams,” chimed in East Providence High School baseball head coach Bobby Rodericks. I’m sure he is hoping to pencil in many of these players someday on his Townie scorecard.
(For those wondering about the name ‘Riverside/EP Central’ – roster numbers are dropping across the area causing leagues to merge. Pawtucket, once featuring 4 and 5 different leagues, are now down to just two. Many other towns are combining. There are only three major division teams in EP Central, Riverside & Rumford - combined. Accordingly, Riverside/EP Central have combined in some respects. A future article will discuss this issue in much more detail in the Reporter.)