The Cranston Western Little League All-Stars, who are representing Rhode Island in the 9-10 year-old New England Regionals, crushed Saco, Maine 12-4 on Monday afternoon at the Chafee Athletic & Recreation Complex and improved its record to 2-0 in pool play.
It was the second thrashing in as many days from CWLL, who also walloped Bennington, Vermont 10-2 in its opener on Sunday night.
Just last week, after winning the state title, CWLL’s Chase D’Ambra guaranteed a Regional Title, and thus far, CWLL has been on track to do just that, and it is making it look effortless.
“Well, it’s certainly not easy, I can promise you that,” CWLL manager James Sweeney assured. “All summer long, these kids have shown up every single day wanting to be better. The moment is not too great for them, and they continue to show up in a big way. And every single time I get a bad feeling and I think this might be the day we struggle, we might have a letdown, they shut me right up.”
“They are flat-out gamers,” Sweeney continued. “All 14 of them. And they want to win. They’re enjoying the moment and they just continue to get better and better and better every day. It’s unbelievable.”
Shane Gaudreau, a left-handed hitter, led CWLL, going 4-for-5 at the dish with an RBI.
“Shane’s a big-time player,” Sweeney said. “He’s as tough mentally as he is physically. He has grown so much. He’s a two-year all-star. He played with us last year, lost in the state championship, and played with us this year. He’s just a mentally tough kid. And he’s another one where the moment is not too big for him.”
Josh Albizu, was also huge for CWLL, contributing three hits and three RBI, while D’Ambra added two hits and two RBI.
CWLL’s Jeremy Silverio started the game on the hill and tossed 35 pitches over just one inning, while yielding one unearned run on two hits with a strikeout. At the plate, Silverio added two hits and a walk with an RBI.
Ezra Small started the second frame on the bump and threw 3 2/3 hitless innings, fanning four with one unearned run.
Nico Testa closed out the game, striking out three over 1 1/3 frames while walking two and yielding two runs, one of which was earned.
“The key to this team all summer long has been picking each other up,” Sweeney explained. “When somebody doesn’t have it on the mound, when somebody doesn’t have it at the plate, somebody else steps up and picks their teammate up and that’s the reason they’re 2-0. That’s the reason they have this opportunity here. Because they just pick each other up. They play a great brand of team baseball, they really do.”
The Maine offense was topped by Colton Cross, who earned two hits and an RBI.
Ben Indorf started the game for Maine and pitched two innings, giving up eight runs, seven earned, on eight hits, with five walks and two strikeouts.
CWLL grabbed a 1-0 edge in the top of the first inning when Small, who hit a lead-off single, scored from third base during a passed ball.
Maine evened the score at 1 in the bottom of the frame when Silverio, who was pitching, walked in a run with the bases loaded, and brought home Ryan Gagnon, who had hit an infield single.
CWLL loaded the bases in the third inning, and then D’Ambra ripped a line drive off the glove of the Saco shortstop, Connor Penney, which scored DJ Malloy from third base and put CWLL up 2-1.
Next, Albizu launched a pinch-hit single to right-center field, and drove in Testa from third base, and then Silverio came home right after when the center fielder made a miscue trying to gather the ball, and that extended the CWLL buffer to 4-1.
After that, Nathan Izzi belted an RBI single to right field and knocked in both D’Ambra and Dylan Guglietta and extended the CWLL margin to 6-1.
Next, with the bases juiced, Gaudreau rocketed a hard bouncer past the first baseman, Cross, for an RBI single, and that brought home both Izzi and Matt Gomez and increased the CWLL cushion to 8-1.
Then, with the bases reloaded, Silverio knocked in David Cavalloro from third base and improved the CWLL advantage to 9-1.
CWLL added to its buffer in the fifth inning when Albizu socked a two-run double to deep right field and scored Gaudreau and Izzi while extending the CWLL advantage to 11-1.
Maine inched within 11-2 during the bottom of the fifth when Gagnon blasted an RBI triple to deep right field and drove in Connor Penney all the way from first base.
In the sixth, CWLL went up 12-2 after D’Ambra hit a two-out, RBI single and scored Gaudreau from third base.
In the bottom of the inning, Maine pulled within 12-3 when Cross socked an RBI triple down the first base line, and into right field and scored Noah Fullerton from first base.
Lastly, Maine got within 12-4 after Cross scored from third base when Silverio, who was catching, threw over to second in an attempt to catch Indorf, who was stealing, and an error occurred.
On Wednesday, CWLL faced off against Fairfield, Connecticut, who is also 2-0 in pool play. The results for that contest were unavailable at press time.
The four-game pool play, which features six New England teams, began on Sunday and concludes on Thursday. The teams who finish with the top two records will advance to the New England Championship on Friday night.
In CWLL’s opening game against Vermont, a 10-2 drubbing, there were several big plays, including a Cavalloro RBI double in the first frame, an Albizu two-run, pinch-hit double in the second inning, and a Gomez two-run triple in the third frame.