Twice in its Connie Mack quarterfinals series against East Providence, Flood Auto Group found itself in a pitchers’ duel. Flood lost the first of those, but won the second to clinch a spot in the semifinals.
There, Flood was locked into a pitchers’ duel again.
And, unfortunately for the Warwick club, this one looked a lot like the first.
Flood starter Dan Thadeio and Slocum Baseball Club pitcher Randall Minogue breezed through five scoreless innings each, but Slocum got to Thadeio for three runs in the sixth. That was the difference as Minogue finished off the shutout and put Flood in a 1-0 series hole with the 3-0 victory.
The teams were slated to play game two on Wednesday, after the Beacon’s deadline.
“Pitchers do the job for us,” said Flood manager Bryan Leahey. “A lot of times, we just can’t get that big hit when we need it. I thought we had something going a couple of times today. We got the guys in scoring position and we couldn’t find a way to get them in.”
That made for a frustrating start to the semifinals as Flood continued its quest for a third consecutive state championship.
Facing Slocum, the top seed from the south division, Flood knew it would have its hands full but came in with some momentum thanks to a victory in the third game of its quarterfinal series on Sunday.
But it didn’t really carry over.
Billy Keegan doubled with two outs in the first inning and Brady Chant followed with a base hit, putting runners on first and third. Minogue buckled down, though, getting a groundout back to the mound to end the inning.
Flood didn’t know it at the time, but that would be one of its best – and only – chances to score.
Slocum erased a leadoff single in the second with a double play and Minogue stranded Ryan Rotondo at third after he had led off the third inning with a single. Keegan, whose double had hit off the fence in the first, was up with Rotondo on third but he grounded back to the mound.
“I think a couple of times, our guys got a little over-anxious and drilled the ball into the ground,” Leahey said. “I know second time up, Billy Keegan hit a ground ball right back to the pitcher. He was a little over-anxious.”
Minogue pitched scoreless fourth and fifth innings with some help from catcher Alex Bedard, who caught two runners stealing. Minogue also worked a one-two-three sixth.
Thadeio did his part for Flood, facing the minimum through two and not allowing a hit until the fourth. But in the sixth, Slocum got the big hit that both teams had been looking for all day.
Jared Winpenny reached base on an infield single with one out. After Thadeio struck out No. 3 hitter Pat Gallant, Winpenny stole second and third and Minogue walked to put runners on first and third.
A.J. O’Connell then smacked the first pitch he saw from Thadeio into the right-center field gap, scoring two. An error later brought O’Connell home for the 3-0 lead.
“Dan pitched great,” Leahey said. “He’s definitely one of the kids that has stepped up. He helped us out great last year, and this year, he’s been one of our go-to guys as a starter. They just had the one big hit with guys on base.”
The sixth-inning surge meant that Flood was very quickly down to its final three outs, and the team watched Minogue trot back out for the seventh.
Flood had some life. Kevin Sutyla grounded out but was awarded first base on a catcher’s interference call. Sutyla was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice by Jake Sendley before Eric Edwards grounded out. Josh Rego kept hope alive when he worked a walk, but Slocum first baseman Mark Rogers handled a hard ground ball from Rotondo and stepped on first for the final out.
Minogue ended up scattering five hits and striking out two. Flood left six men on base.
Thadeio struck out five and also surrendered just five hits. Rotondo led the Flood offense with two hits.
The loss put Flood into a do-or-die game two, which was scheduled for Wednesday. If necessary, game three would be Thursday.
“There’s no different approach,” Leahey said. “You’ve got to stay true to your course. We’ve just got to be a little more patient than we have been.”