The pitching of right-hander Anthony Melise and timely hitting led the Cranston Bulldogs to a 1-0 series lead in its quarterfinal matchup with Slocum on Friday evening at Lischio Field in North Kingstown, with Cranston erasing a pair of deficits to prevail, 3-2.
Melise continued his stellar summer, tossing a complete game to earn the victory, striking out six and yielding just one earned run.
“Anthony Melise, he did it again,” Cranston manager David Ciolfi said. “He’s our best pitcher right now. (Caleb) Joubert is our second-string catcher behind the plate, and he performed unreal. Those two guys were great, and we got a couple key base hits.”
“My curveball was working,” Melise said. “We kept mixing it in, and it was on, so I kept throwing it.”
Cranston closed the series with a 9-1 victory in Game 2, clinching a trip to the semifinals, where it will meet top-seeded North Providence (15-1). Game 1 of the series was set for Tuesday at North Providence High School, with Game 2 tabbed for Wednesday at Fay Field. Results from both of those games were unavailable at press time. If a Game 3 is necessary, that will be played this evening back at North Providence High School.
Slocum got off to a quick start in Game 1, as starting pitcher Lucas Deslauriers quickly retired the side in the top of the first, bringing the home team up to bat.
Mark Halloran led off the bottom of the first with a four-pitch walk off Melise, and he would hustle around to score on a double down the left field line by Adam Beliveau three hitters later, giving Slocum an early, 1-0 lead.
Cranston couldn’t get anything going in the first two innings at the plate, but Deslauriers couldn’t find the zone with two outs in the top of the third, allowing the Bulldogs to knot the game at 1. Deslauriers walked Dan Estman, hit Jacob Palazzo with a pitch and walked Justin Neary to load the bases before Martin Goldberg legged out an infield single to score Estman. However, Deslauriers would work his way out of the inning with no further damage.
The Slocum right-hander would help himself out at the plate in the bottom half of the inning, as well, drawing a bases-loaded walk to bring Andrew Sarazen in from third and push his team out in front once again, 2-1.
Cranston looked as though it might get that run back in the top of the fourth, but Estman stung a liner right at the Slocum third baseman to end the inning with runners at first and second.
However, with Melise dealing the rest of the way, the Bulldogs’ offense would rally in the sixth.
Cranston would quickly load the bases on singles from Melise and Michael Cuddemi and a walk to Joubert.
Melise raced home to tie the game on a wild pitch, and Estman used his speed to beat out an infield single later in the inning to score Cuddemi and give the Bulldogs the lead for good, 3-2.
Melise retired the side in the seventh to seal his complete-game effort and a 1-0 series lead for the Bulldogs.
“Today was a big win,” Melise said. “I felt good out there and I just kept throwing.”