After beating East Providence 9-7 in game one of its Connie Mack quarterfinal series, Flood Auto Group got a dominant pitching performance from Michael Webb but lost game two 1-0.
On Sunday, Kyle Barbato delivered another dominant performance.
And Flood didn’t waste this one.
Thanks to two runs in the first inning, Flood jumped to a lead and never lost it en route to a 4-0 victory and a berth in the semifinals.
“We said after game two, ‘We had the hits, we just couldn’t capitalize on our chances,’” said Flood manager Bryan Leahey. “We had to be smarter. East Providence had good pitchers and we were swinging at the first strikes we saw. We had to be patient and wait for a good pitch to hit.”
That approach – and more strong work on the mound – paved the way for a return trip to the semis.
But it certainly wasn’t an easy series.
After the slugfest in game one, pitching took over in Saturday’s game two. Webb pitched all six innings for Flood and gave up just a hit in the sixth inning while striking out two. He was the hard-luck loser, though, as the one hit and a few miscues led to a run for East Providence. Flood managed nothing.
“We had our chances,” Leahey said. “Michael Webb gave us a great start. He was fantastic. We just didn’t get the big hit for him.”
Thankfully for Flood, there’s no shortage of pitching on the roster. With Barbato on the mound, that part of the blueprint stayed the same.
Flood just needed some offense.
“You always want to make sure you’re ready to go and ready to hit,” Leahey said. “Kyle pitched a one-two-three inning and you want your offense to say, ‘Okay, you’re doing your job, now we’re going to do our job.’ Especially with this being game three, we really wanted to start fast.”
It was mission accomplished. Led by Eric Edwards and Billy Keegan, who have had hot bats throughout the postseason, Flood scored two runs in the first and later added two insurance runs in the sixth.
But Barbato didn’t need the extra help – one would have been enough. The right-hander tossed a complete-game shutout, striking out nine and allowing just two hits.
“He was dominant for us,” Leahey said. “He pitched great.”
The performance was another big moment in a season full of them for Flood’s young starting pitchers. Barbato and Webb are both rising sophomores, and they’re joined in the rotation by several other young arms.
“It’s definitely big that the younger guys are stepping up,” Leahey said. “They’ve pitched very well for us.”
Sunday’s victory put Flood – the two-time defending state champs – two wins away from another title shot.
But the next step will be tough, as well.
Slocum, the top seed from the south division awaits in the semis. The teams did not meet in the regular season, but Leahey knows to expect a battle.
“I know that with them being the No. 1 seed, they’re definitely a team to contend with,” Leahey said. “Hopefully our offense can start clicking and we can start off with a win.”
Flood will visit Slocum for game one today at 5 p.m. at Lischio Field in North Kingstown. Game two is slated for Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Hendricken.