The youthful Queen City Athletics Riverdogs had a memorable season, including winning the state American Legion baseball tournament.
But they ran into a pair of quality opponents at the Northeast Regional Tournament at Fitton Field on the Holy Cross campus in Worcester, Massachusetts, and were eliminated.
On Thursday, the team from Waterford, Connecticut, Post 161 received six innings of seven-hit, one-run baseball from pitcher Anthony Jessuck and Preston Tabor drove in three runs with a triple and a single to triumph 10-1 in the blistering heat.
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Cumberland, Rhode Island, had beaten the Riverdogs 14-0 in six innings on Wednesday.
Jackson Long doubled and singled for the winners and knocked in a pair of runs.
Jed Gilpatrick had a pair of singles and Collin Peckham had a run-scoring double for the Riverdogs.
Waterford erupted for four fourth-inning runs to snap a 1-1 tie and added five more in the fifth.
The Riverdogs, comprised of players from Hampden Academy and Brewer High School, concluded a 17-5 season.
“We just couldn’t generate any offense today,” said Riverdogs coach Jon Perry. “We got some hits and had some pretty good swings but we couldn’t get the big hit.”
Perry added that they ran into some “very good teams” in Worcester.
“They were older and more experienced than our players and they had more baseball savvy,” he added. “We faced some good arms.”
He said his team definitely had a case of “stage fright” and that contributed to fielding errors, which was out of character for his team.
The Cumberland, Rhode Island, team had six players who were on college rosters this spring including pitcher Michael Clapprood, who tossed five innings of one-hit ball against them on Wednesday.
Clapprood made one appearance as a freshman on the roster of Endicott College, which went 40-10 and advanced to a Super Regional in the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament.
Perry felt Kaden Beloff and Peckham, who started on the mound in the first two games, respectively, both pitched well but were victimized by poor defensive play.
Perry is already looking forward to next season because a strong nucleus will return, headlined by pitchers Peckham, Grady Vanidestine and Gilpatrick, who are also three of the team’s best hitters.
Third baseman Logan Burns and slick-fielding shortstop T.J. Llerena will also be back after turning in impressive seasons.
He will return several other role players including five who played on Hampden’s state championship Junior American Legion team and also saw a little service for the Senior Legion team.
Perry is looking forward to next summer and feels the team will benefit from having played in the Northeast Regional so if they repeat as state champs, they won’t be as nervous in the regional.
They will have to replace State Legion Tournament Most Valuable Player Anthony Chiappone, the team’s closer and first baseman.
“We’re still state champions and our kids developed life-long friendships,” Perry said.