Gershkoff to Upper Deck in championship

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Cranston, Auburn Post 20, Gershkoff Auto Body fell in the R.I. American Legion Championship to defending champion Upper Deck Post 14 during back-to-back games on Friday night at McCarthy Field.

Upper Deck snuck by Gershkoff 2-1 in Game 1 before earning a 9-3 victory in Game 2.

Cam Harris started Game 1 for Gershkoff and took the loss, pitching six innings while yielding two runs, both unearned, on three hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts.

Upper Deck’s Jackson Walsh opposed Harris and earned the win, tossing five innings and giving up one earned run, on three hits with one walk and two strikeouts.

Addison Kopack earned the save for Upper Deck, throwing two hitless innings, while walking one and striking out one.

The Gershkoff bats were paced by Massimo Feroce, who had two hits and an RBI, and Seth Daly, who reached base twice in the game on a walk and HBP.

The Upper Deck offense was carried by CJ Davock and Braedon Carney, who each reached base twice, with Davock scoring both of Upper Deck’s runs. Only one other Upper Deck hitter reached base in Game 1.

Upper Deck struck first in the bottom of the second inning, when Davock, who reached base with an infield hit, scored from third base during a wild pitch and put Upper Deck up 1-0.

Gershkoff knotted the score at 1 in the fourth frame when Feroce belted a two-out, RBI single past a diving shortstop, and scored Evan Degaitas from third base.

But, in the fifth inning, Upper Deck got what proved to be the game-winning run when Davock, who reached base via an error, scored from third base after a sacrifice fly from Tyler McNulty and gave Upper Deck a 2-1 lead.

In Game 2, a 9-3 Upper Deck win, Gershkoff got three solid innings out of starter Andrew Clesas, who gave up one run on one hit, and then, Feroce came on in relief in the fourth frame and was touched up for five runs (four earned) in the fifth and took the loss.  

“He was pitching on three days’ rest and he did a phenomenal job,” Gershkoff manager David Schiappa said on Clesas. “And then, after that, a couple things went wrong here and there. It is what it is.”

Corey Meyer, took the ball for Upper Deck and gave up two earned runs on three hits in the first inning before he was pulled in the second and replaced by Nick Croteau, who scattered four hits over 4 2/3 shutout innings and earned the win.

The Gershkoff bats were jumpstarted by first inning RBI singles from both Daly and Tom Barbieri.

Also, contributing at the dish was Feroce (single, double) and Drew Spirito (2 doubles, RBI).

Upper Deck was carried by the hitting of Kopack (2 singles, RBI and 2 runs scored) and David Bordieri, Jr. (2 doubles, 4 RBIs).

The Gershkoff bats came alive in the top of the first inning of Game 2 when Degaitas worked a lead-off walk, and then Barbieri knocked him in from second base with a one-out RBI single and put Post 20 up 1-0.

Then, Daly drove home Barbieri with an RBI single and extended the Gershkoff advantage to 2-0.  

But Upper Deck cut the deficit to 2-1 in the fourth frame when Carney hit a sacrifice fly to center field and drove in Kopack from third base.

Then, Upper Deck knotted the game at 2 in the fifth inning, when with one out and the bases loaded, Drew Szfranski, who singled, scored from third base during a passed ball.

After that, Upper Deck reloaded the bases when Steve Andrews hit an infield pop-up to short, but a miscommunication between the shortstop, Noah Cook, and the third baseman, Spirito allowed the ball to drop in for a hit.

Next, Croteau gave Upper Deck a 3-2 lead when he scored from third base during a passed ball.

Then, with two runners in scoring position, Bordieri hit a routine fly ball to centerfield, which Degaitas, the center fielder, lost sight of, and that let in both Kopack and Andrews and put Upper Deck up 5-2.

“We had a couple of twilight plays,” Schiappa said. “We had the pop-up at short and the pop up out in center field that they really couldn’t see the ball. That’s tough . . . All of a sudden they score three, four runs off of that. That’s hard to come back from.”

Next, Carney belted a sac fly to center field and knocked in Bordieri and increased the Upper Deck buffer to 6-2.

In the sixth inning, Kopack hit a two-out RBI single to left-center and scored Shane Calabro from third base and increased the Upper Deck margin to 7-2.

Next, Andrews crushed an RBI double off the wall in deep center field, which scored Kopack and made it 8-2.

Then, Bordieri followed with an RBI double of his own and brought home Andrews and upped the Upper Deck advantage to 9-2.

Gershkoff inched within 9-3 in the top of the seventh frame when Spirito rocketed a two-out RBI double to center field and knocked in Harris from second base.    

With the defeat, Gershkoff finishes as the state runner-up for the second summer in a row, but Schiappa believes his players should be proud instead of upset.

“I thought they played fantastic,” Schiappa said. “We started out 2-6. They went to Alaska and won a tournament and they did a great job winning almost 20 games in a row and getting to the final game here. It was incredible. So to me, they are a championship team. We just fell a little short.”    

Gershkoff finished American Legion play with a 17-9 record and went 24-13 overall. Post 20 played 37 games in 51 days.

Game 1 was postponed after two innings on Thursday because of a power outage.

The game resumed on Friday night at 5:30 p.m. and was followed by the winner-take-all Game 2 at 7:30 p.m. 

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