Over the years, Flood Auto Group has made a habit of playing its best baseball in the postseason. Even after a 4-9 campaign this year, Flood seemed ready to do it again when it swept top-seeded Narragansett in the first round.
But the playoff run hit a snag over the weekend.
Pawtucket’s Elmwood Sports Center turned in two dominant pitching performances and took advantage of some shaky defense by Flood to sweep a best-of-three quarterfinal series and end Flood’s season. Elmwood won 4-1 on Saturday and 9-2 on Sunday.
“We didn’t help ourselves out with the defense, but the kids fought,” said Flood manager Bryan Leahey. “That’s all we expect from them. Year in and year out, we’re just battlers and scrappers. We’re proud of them. Unfortunately, we put ourselves in too big of a hole.”
Against a veteran Elmwood team, that was a bad recipe.
Flood took a 1-0 lead in Saturday’s game but ran into trouble in the fourth inning. A bases-loaded walk tied the game before two errors let three more runs in.
That was all Elmwood needed. Pitcher Bryan Quinlan twirled a complete game, allowing just the one run.
“It should have been a 1-1 game but we didn’t do what we needed to do,” Leahey said. “It could have turned out different for us.”
In game two, Flood quickly fell into a hole with a rough first inning. Adam Duarte led off with a walk from starter Kyle Barbato. Quinlan followed with a double to put runners on second and third. Chris Baldwin then hit a ground ball to shortstop, and Andrew Almonte tried getting an out at home. Duarte slid in safely, though. A second run came in on an RBI single by Ben Duarte.
Flood settled down after that, with Barbato retiring seven in a row and working three scoreless frames. But a comeback looked like an iffy proposition. Elmwood starter Richard Marshall struck out seven in the first four innings and the only hit he allowed was a pop-up that his shortstop lost in the sun.
And soon enough, the comeback trail got steeper. Elmwood took advantage of three Flood errors and four base hits to score four more runs and chase Barbato.
Trailing 6-0, Flood’s offense finally came to life in the fifth. Josh Rego walked and pinch runner Mike Kiernan scored on a two-out single by Rob Fredette. Rob Montagano followed with a base hit to score Fredette. Brendan Conley then walked, and it seemed like Flood might make its run.
After Marshall departed, though, reliever Tim Allen struck out the next batter on four pitches to end the threat. Allen didn’t allow a hit the rest of the way, and Elmwood tacked on three runs in the sixth to pull away.
“That’s mostly college kids playing against our freshman and JV teams,” Leahy said. “We battled. We just didn’t do enough.”
Flood opened the playoffs in style, with a comeback victory in game one of its series with Narragansett and a dominant 10-0 win in game two.
Flood was down 4-0 in Tuesday’s game but came back to tie it 4-4. In the first extra inning, Fredette singled and Conley launched a fly ball over the center fielder’s head to score him. Christian Travers worked a scoreless bottom of the eighth to seal the win.
In game two, Narragansett was no match for Matt Kennedy. The rising sophomore allowed just one hit, and Flood broke out for a mercy-rule victory.
“He just dominated,” Leahey said.
While Flood’s season ended much earlier than normal – the team won the 2010 and 2011 state championships before losing in the finals last year – Leahey still views it as a success.
“It’s always a success,” he said. “Our key is developing these guys and I think we did that this summer. It was a good experience, especially for the freshmen kids. We’re getting them ready for JV now, and we’ll see if the JV kids can contribute on varsity.”