By ALEX SPONSELLER New England Frozen Lemonade secured the third seed in the Rhode Island 19-20 Elite League last week and is poised to make a run at a title this weekend. NEFL entered the season as one of the top clubs in the new, one-off league, and
By ALEX SPONSELLER New England Frozen Lemonade secured the third seed in the Rhode Island 19-20 Elite League last week and is poised to make a run at a title this weekend.
NEFL entered the season as one of the top clubs in the new, one-off league, and made noise with sharp pitching and timely hitting throughout the summer.
In this new league, all eight teams qualified for the postseason, and NEFL manager Mike Fratus was happy to see his club secure at least one home playoff game.
“You want to get the highest seed, we would love to play at Mickey Stephens because we know how to play it, but these are all good teams in this league and anything can happen. We are (the third seed) so we will get a home game and we’ll take it from there,” said Fratus.
Considering the late start to the season, the schedule was rather short and forced teams to hit their strides fast. Fratus has been happy with his club’s progression throughout the summer and feels that it is in a good spot entering the postseason.
“We’re ready and guys know their roles … we have a lot of moving parts. We have five outfield rotations, a great infield rotation, I’ll DH for my pitchers so guys will get AB’s. Everybody understands where they’re at which is good because we were not sure where we would be at going into the year. We knew that we would be good depth-wise, so to be here is good,” Fratus said.
Although NEFL is happy to secure some homefield advantage, it is expecting to be tested each game as all teams in the league are similar in skill and numbers.
“Every team is good, even the bottom half. Don’t sleep on (eighth seed) South Kingstown for example, their pitching is good and at any point a switch can flip and they may start hitting. Pawtucket is sneaky good, especially if they’re on, Scituate put one on us … anything can happen. One through eight, you’re going to get a good battle. So that is why we need to stay sharp. We just need to pitch and field as well as we have been, then the hits will come,” said Fratus.
NEFL opened its postseason on Wednesday evening, but the results were not available at press time.
After topping now top-seeded Gershkoff in the season opener, NEFL fell to the Cranston-based club last week on the road.
Andrew Florio earned the win on the mound for Gershkoff, pitching six innings and allowing one earned run and collecting a strikeout. Noah Cook led the way on offense, hitting a grand slam in the third inning to give Gershkoff the lead that was sustained the rest of the way. Max Marchetti and Florio also added RBI.
Christian Rapoza took the loss for NEFL, pitching four innings and allowing six earned runs and recording a pair of strikeouts. Jake Randall and Dylan Barlow recorded NEFL’s two RBI.
“In my opinion, we have the deepest pitching depth in the league, no one has our depth. We’ll see these guys again and Christian pitched a good game, they weren’t hitting him hard, he just left two pitches up. That’s what happens when you face a good hitting team and they’re probably the best offensive team in the league,” said Fratus after the loss.