Collette upends Gershkoff in opening round of Legion playoffs

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Gershkoff Auto Body/Auburn Post 20 fell to Collette Vacations/ Post 10, 6-3, in the opening round of Senior Legion playoffs at Johnson and Wales University Monday afternoon.

Post 20 compiled a 14-6 overall record in the regular season, securing the No. 3 seed in this year’s tournament. Collette, 11-9 overall, was the No. 6 seed.

Gershkoff would send its ace John Beneduce to the hill to square off against Collette’s Jarred Schott.

Collette would strike first in the top of the first. With two down, first baseman Armani Henderson launched a home run into left field to make it 1-0.

Gershkoff responded quickly in its half of the first, however. With one out, second baseman Jacob Coro reached on a single to right field. Coro would come around to score as the next batter, shortstop Travis Collins, hit an RBI triple into left field. Collins would also score after a sacrifice fly RBI from cleanup hitter Emilio Rodriguez. Gershkoff took the lead, 2-1, after one complete.

With one out in the top of the second, Post 10 third baseman Nate Vigeant golfed a triple into the alley in right center field. He would tie the game at 2 after an RBI sacrifice fly to center field from second baseman Mike Webb.

After a rough start, Schott settled down in the second, inducing a pop out and a ground out to start the inning. With two outs, Gershkoff center fielder Jacob Frost reached first on a base hit. Schott picked off Frost to end the inning.

With the game tied at 2 and one down in the top of the third, Collette’s Christian Aybar walked and then stole second base. Then, with two outs it was Henderson who would deliver. Aybar would score on an RBI double to right center from Henderson. He would also score after an RBI single from cleanup man Adam Duarte. The score was 4-2 Collette after three full.

Henderson and Duarte would combine to go 6-for-10 with four RBIs and two runs scored.

Collette head coach Jim Mello was satisfied with his team’s offensive performance. “At this point in the season, you lose two and you’re out,” he said. “We want to keep playing and are enjoying our time playing as a team.”

In the top of the fourth, Post 20 pitcher John Beneduce would escape a two-out, two-on jam. With Collette’s Patrick Fleming on third, a ball escaped catcher Nick Poulos and Fleming broke home. With Beneduce covering, Poulos flipped the ball home to catch Fleming.

However, in the top of the fifth, Collette would add some more insurance. After a base hit from Dylan Boisclair, who would steal second and reach third on a passed ball, Duarte knocked in his second RBI on a base hit into center field, giving Collette a 5-2 advantage after five.

Both teams would go silent in the sixth and seventh.

To start the eighth, Chris Manfredo emerged from the Gershkoff dugout to relieve Beneduce. Beneduce’s final line was seven innings pitched, five earned runs on nine total hits, with two walks and a strikeout.

Despite a tough outing, Gershkoff head coach Dave Schiappa had nothing but positive comments about his starter.

“He is definitely one of the best pitchers in the league,” Schiappa said. “I expected to win with him on the mound and I still think he pitched good enough to win. We just did not have timely hitting.”

Manfredo would work around a base hit and a walk by striking out two and getting a fly out to center field to push the game into the bottom of the eighth.

Gershkoff would plate its third run in the eighth off of relief pitcher Ben Roy. Collins led the inning off with a single. He would go 2-for-4 in the game with an RBI and two runs scored. With one out, Collins would score after an RBI double from third baseman Dan Smith.

The rally would be halted after Luis Nunez lined into a double play, though. After eight full Collette led 5-3.

Collette would add one more in the ninth after an RBI single from Aybar plated Elliot Vadnais, pushing its lead to 6-3.

Webb would move from second base to the mound to close out the game for Collette. He walked Frost with two outs, but then battled to strike out Harold Corniel to end the game.

“Hopefully we can bounce back,” Schiappa said. “The depth is there. We are a two-way team.”

Gershkoff was set to play a must-win game against Navigant Credit Union/Woonsocket Post 85 on Tuesday, but results were unavailable at press time.

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