East 11s fall to Johnston in District 1 title game

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Johnston Little League’s 11-year-old all-star team took home the District 1 Championship Thursday night at Kennedy Field as it shut out Cranston East Little League 13-0.

Johnston’s offense was red hot, going 18-for-33 overall and slugging three home runs on the night.

Offense was not the only thing on Johnston’s side Thursday night, as pitcher Derek Salvatore and the rest of the defense brought their best stuff as well. Salvatore pitched the complete five-inning game, allowing just five hits while striking out two.

Despite the outcome, East’s team effort all season did not go unnoticed by Manager Ron Coffey at the end of the game.

“We didn’t give up at the end,” Coffey said. “It’s always tough losing like this, especially after three games where we played really crisp. But, playing a couple more games than we anticipated is always a good thing.”

The top of the first began with Johnston rallying with two outs. Catcher Mike LaFlamme would knock in the first run of the inning when Salvatore came around to score on an RBI single to center field.

The next two batters, Cam Salois and Jonah Pecchio, would both reach. With the bases loaded, right fielder Ryan Nichols would knock a base hit into center field, scoring LaFlamme.

After a 2-RBI single from Antonio DeFalco, the top half of the first would conclude with Johnston holding a 5-0 advantage. Cranston’s offense struggled out of the gate. East only had one baserunner between the first and second innings.

Johnston tacked on another run in the second, courtesy of an RBI sacrifice fly to right field off the bat of LaFlamme. LaFlamme went 2-for-3 in the ball game with three RBIs, two runs scored and a home run.

Johnston would stretch its lead to nine runs after the third inning. Jase Deanseris led things off with a double to center field. After a walk to No. 9 hitter DeFalco and a Salvatore base hit, Johnston would get its three runs in the inning from an RBI sacrifice fly from Dylan Martins and a 2-RBI double from shortstop Joey Vento. Johnston led 9-0 heading into the home half of the third.

Cranston would threaten in the third. Catcher Thomas Roche began the inning off with a double to center field. With one out, pitcher David Coffey reached on an infield single, leaving men on the corners.

The opportunity to score was cut short for Cranston, as Luke Montefusco would strike out looking and Coffey was thrown out trying to steal second by Johnston’s LaFlamme.

Cranston would have its best defensive inning in the fourth. Coffey worked around a leadoff single from Johnston’s Pecchio. Coffey struck out the next batter, induced a pop up back to him and then struck out Aidan McGarry to end the inning.

The score remained 9-0 heading into the fifth.

With the top of the order due up to start the fifth, Johnston pieced together its strongest inning since the first, scoring four runs on six hits. Four of the first five batters in the inning would get on base, including three home runs over that span. Martins drilled a 2-run homer and LaFlamme and Salois lifted back-to-back home runs.

Salvatore would go the distance on the hill for Johnston, as he would complete the fifth and final inning, pushing Johnston to the District Championship win, 13-0.

“They really support each other,” Johnston head coach Dan Salvatore said regarding the complete team effort. “There are no guys that think they are big stars. They are very level players that back each other up and cheer each other on. This is one of the most fun teams I have coached.”

Johnston will go on to play in the state championship bracket later this month.

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