Upper Deck upends Gershkoff

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Suboptimal defense and an abundance of stranded base runners doomed Gershkoff Post 20 in a 9-4 loss vs. Upper Deck Post 86/14 on Monday night.

Despite the location of the game at Cranston Stadium, Gershkoff served as the away team vs. Upper Deck, which is based out of Cumberland. The defending Rhode Island champions were far from perfect themselves, but made the most of the opportunities created by eight Gershkoff errors and its 11 runners left on base.

“We left too many guys on and made too many errors,” Gershkoff manager Dave Schiappa said after the game. “You’re not going to win when that happens.”

Gershkoff took the initial lead, 1-0, after half an inning thanks to three straight walks courtesy of Upper Deck starter Nick Larson.

Max Pearce hit a bases loaded sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Mitch Carvalho. Cam Harris was hit by a pitch to reload the bases, but for the first of three instances in the game, Gershkoff left the bases loaded to deny itself a big inning.

Upper Deck immediately took advantage with three unearned runs off of Edwin Colon in the bottom of the first, hopping on top for good. Gershkoff committed four errors in the first, enabling Drew Szfranski, Larson and Luis DeLeon to cross home.

Nick Poulos led off the top of the second with a single, later advancing to second on a sac bunt by Zach Cole and eventually scoring on an Upper Deck error – the only one it committed all night – to get Gershkoff within a run.

Upper Deck got that run right back in the bottom of the second on yet another Gershkoff error and grabbed one more in the bottom of the third to build a 5-2 lead, an inning which saw two more Gershkoff errors.

The defense tightened considerably from there on, with just one more miscue over the final four innings. Gershkoff’s offense finally appeared to click in the top of the fifth inning, beginning the frame with three straight singles off the bats of Jake Frost, Carvalho and Emmanuel Rodriguez.

Carvalho’s base knock drove in a run, as Frost had stolen second upon reaching, and Carvalho himself came around to score on a Pearce RBI single to get Gershkoff within a run at 5-4.

Including a walk for Gianni Valentini, each of Gershkoff’s first five hitters in the top of the fifth reached safely. Once again, however, the team couldn’t put up a truly crooked number, leaving the bases loaded for the second of three times.

Upper Deck chased Colon from the game in the bottom of the fifth en route to three more runs, and scored a ninth and final run in the bottom of the sixth off of John Beneduce to complete its scoring.

Gershkoff left the bases loaded for a third and final time in the top of the seventh, stranding Valentini and Harris, who had walked, and Poulos, who had singled, to drop two games below .500 at 5-7.

“We’ve just got to not make those errors that turn into doubles and triples,” Schiappa said. “Our pitching is fine. We’ve just got to be more aggressive at the plate.”

Colon gave up eight runs – only three earned – over 4 1/3 innings of work, giving up four hits while walking four and striking out three. Beneduce gave up one run off three hits in relief, walking none and striking out one.

Larson lasted five innings for Upper Deck, giving up four runs – three earned – on six hits while walking seven and striking out one. He was replaced by Shane Calabro for the final two innings. Calabro held Gershkoff scoreless and allowed only one hit, although he did walk three batters and struck out none.

“We’re really deep with pitching – we’ve got about 10 arms – but when you play seven games in four days, you’ve got to kind of wing it, and that’s what we did today,” Upper Deck manager Jim Mello said.

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