In 1955 the late, great comedic actor Peter Sellers made a movie titled “The Mouse That Roared.”
If the Rhode Island Interscholastic League should decide to make a high school baseball version of a sequel it should be named “The Cougars That Roared.”
With an enrollment of barely 500 male students, North Providence is near the bottom of the R.I.I.L. when it comes to sports. But the Cougars sure know how to play baseball.
Not only did coach Dean Garganese’s team capture the Division I championship with a 17-1 record, but the Cougars also earned the No. 1 seed in the 16-team, double-elimination Division I state tournament.
The Cougars got off on the right paw by mauling 16th-seeded Lincoln, 8-3, in an opening round game.
Mike Corin (three hits and two RBI), Nick DiDino (two-run single) and Tyler Proulx (two hits, one RBI) paced the attack as North Providence moved into the winners’ bracket.
North Providence annexed the top seed by blanking Moses Brown, 2-0, in its regular-season finale as Corin blanked the Quakers for six innings and Dillon McCluskie pitched a perfect seventh for the save.
In other first-round games:
* No. 2 Hendricken (the Hawks beat the Cougars two years ago in the finals) beat No. 15 East Greenwich, 7-2, as Bill Walker belted a solo homer and Tom Pannone (who’s signed a letter of intent to play his college ball at the University of Miami) allowed two runs on five hits over six innings.
* No. 14 Chariho upset No. 3 North Kingstown, 5-3, as Jacob Marchessault went the distance on a five-hitter. With the scored tied at 3 in the top of the seventh, Jim Paquette drilled a two-run single for the Chargers.
* No. 4 South Kingstown edged No. 13 Warwick Vets, 3-2, as Nick Hayes plated all of the Rebels’ runs with two hits.
* No. 5 La Salle blanked No. 12 Pilgrim, 3-0, with Caleb Gardner and Tyler Drainville combining for 12 strikeouts. The Rams scored their runs in the third on RBI doubles by Jesse Lee, Frank DiMato and Pat Burns.
* No. 11 Coventry knocked off No. 6 Cranston East, 5-1 as Matt Laferriere went the distance on a six hitter and fanned eight in the process.
* No. 7 Portsmouth routed No. 10 Cranston West, 10-0, with Matt Peters homering to key a 13-hit attack.
* No. 8 Cumberland had to work “overtime” to dispatch No. 9 Middletown, 1-0, in 12 innings. Ryan Harris led the last of the 12th with a single, advanced to third on a wild pickoff throw and scored the only run on a wild pitch.
LIONS EMBRACE PERFECTION
To say pressure will be on Lincoln entering the Division I softball tournament would be an understatement.
The Lions completed an undefeated season (18-0) which enabled them to capture the Division I-North title and earn the top seed in the state tournament.
Two late-season games underscored Lincoln’s proficiency.
Junior Lindsay Mayer – who’s given a verbal commitment to play softball at Virginia - went the distance on a three-hitter, fanning 12 in the process, in a 4-0 win over Coventry.
Emily Bouthilette’s two-run homer provided all the support Mayer needed.
Then, Lauren Hervieux emulated Mayer by tossing a complete-game, four-hitter as Lincoln beat La Salle, 9-1.
Mayer contributed on offense by belting a two-run homer.
RAMS ANXIOUS TO PURSUE TITLE
By virtue of capturing the Division I boys’ lacrosse title with a 10-0 record, La Salle earned the top seed, plus a first-round bye, in the Division I state tournament.
The Rams begin tournament play with a 54-3 record in regular-season games over the last five seasons and are favored to capture the first state title since the school added lacrosse.
Division I play commenced with No. 3 Hendricken routing No. 6 Portsmouth, 16-6, due in large part to Conor Garrahy’s four goals.
In first-round Division II action, No. 6 Mount St. Charles knocked off No. 3 Prout, 12-10, with Ted Fenton scoring four goals.
No. 3 Toll Gate eliminated No. 6 Tiverton/Rogers, 11-3 with Kevin Vittum whipping home six goals.
YOUTH SERVED ON THE COURT
Given how proficient 15-year-old Matt Kuhar and Jared Donaldson are at this tender age, one only can wonder how good they will become when they are older.
Donaldson, a freshman at Ponganset, beat Kuhar, a sophomore at Smithfield, 6-2, 6-2 to capture the state singles championship.
Given the scores, it wasn’t a surprise that the match lasted only 70 minutes. In addition, Donaldson broke Kuhar twice in the first set and thrice in the second.
Donaldson very well may be the definition of prodigy. He trained in Argentina and played for the U.S. Junior Davis Cup Team in Mexico.
While a Ponaganset player copped the state singles title, perennial power South Kingstown annexed every other trophy.
Sean Gorman and R.J. Kermes combined to outlast La Salle’s Andrew Dunn and Curtis Dyer, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the state doubles championship.
In the process, the Rebels captured their fourth consecutive doubles title.
But that accomplishment pales in comparison with what South Kingstown has done as a team.
Veteran coach Andy Carr’s squad annexed its 14th (count ‘em, 14) state team championship by beating Hendricken, 4-1.
The Rebels, who finished 18-0, were led by Tim Puerto who beat Nick Walsh, 6-, 6-4 at No. 1 singles plus Gorman and Kermes who beat Carlos Arcinegas and Kelan Sullivan at No. 1 doubles.
Elsewhere, Cranston West notched the Division II title thanks to a 4-1 victory over East Greenwich and Middletown edged North Smithfield, 4-3, for the Division III crown.
Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.