Coming into Saturday’s game with East Providence, the Flood Ford Connie Mack team had won five out of six and had already clinched the No. 1 seed in its division.
So when Flood fell 8-7 to East Providence in 10 innings, it was disappointing but didn’t make much a difference in the grand scheme of things. Flood will still be the top seed, and it still has confidence heading into the postseason.
“I definitely think there is a lot more confidence,” Flood manager Bryan Leahey said. “Going into the final week, it’s just been pushing to get everything to line up for us towards the end. Make that push for the playoffs.”
Flood finished the regular season at 10-6, and holds the tiebreaker over Coventry, which finished with the same record. Twice during the regular season, Flood beat Coventry. That gave it the top seed, and a head start on chasing the state title.
By virtue of winning the division, Flood gets a bye through the preliminary round of the playoffs, and it is automatically into the best-of-three quarterfinals.
Its opponent is yet to be determined, though it will be either Chariho or East Providence.
And, though ready for the playoffs, Leahey isn’t taking anybody lightly.
“I told the kids right from the get-go, we can’t relax no matter what,” Leahey said. “We’re Hendricken, no matter what name we have. We’re the Hendricken team, so everyone is going at us, no matter what. Show up for nine innings, play for nine innings.”
On Saturday, East Providence seconded that notion, as it hung with Flood the whole way until it finally got over the hump in extra innings.
EP scored three runs early off Flood starter Dan Thadeio to take the lead, before being silenced by reliever Jake Newberry.
Newberry threw four scoreless innings, giving Flood something positive to take away from the loss.
“He’s one of the go-to guys out of the bullpen for us,” Leahey said. “He was actually the second pitcher on Saturday. He really stepped up for us when we needed him to.”
The offense, though, had a rare off day. Flood managed just six hits overall, three of which came off the bat of Matt Peterson.
Yet, that wasn’t much reason for concern. The lineup has been steady, and Peterson has been a dominating presence in it for much of the year, finishing the season with a .410 batting average.
Gary Geisser has been Flood’s other consistently strong hitter, as he hit .405 for the year. He had a single in five at-bats against East Providence.
“Peterson had a slow start, but right about the halfway point he just started to really get base hits for us,” Leahey said. “He was just finding a way to get on base. He was definitely a huge catalyst for us. And the same thing for Geisser.”
Flood’s quarterfinal series is set to start on Thursday, and the pitching staff should be well rested. Dillon Manfredi is at the top, as he started four games during the year and finished with a 3.22 earned run average.
“He’s been one of our aces,” Leahey said. “He’s helped lead us on this playoff run. He’s gotten into a couple jams, but he was able to step up and shut guys down.”
Anthony Graziano has also been a mainstay in the rotation, and he led the team in strikeouts.
When the postseason is officially underway, Leahey is also hoping to get a boost from Bobby Lineberger, who just finished up playing for Hendricken’s American Legion team, Senerchia Post 74.
Lineberger has been on the Connie Mack roster all season, but has appeared in just seven games. He has not pitched yet, and he’s picked up two hits in 16 at-bats.
“We’re hoping that he can bring over what he had for legion down to us, to help carry us through the playoffs,” Leahey said.
If there is any reason for concern, it’s who Flood will be playing in the quarterfinals.
East Providence, if it advances that far, has shown that it can beat Flood, as evidenced by Saturday’s victory.
Chariho, the other possible opponent, has beaten Flood twice during the season.
“Any given day anybody can beat anybody,” Leahey said. “There is a little bit of pressure on us because both of those teams beat us during the regular season.”
Either way, Flood is one of the favorites.
“We have to play the games until the umpire says the final out,” Leahey said. “Everyone is going at us.”