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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

7/7/2013

There’s no truth to the rumor that the Rhode Island Interscholastic League is going to stop holding the Division I State Baseball Tournament and automatically give the championship trophy to Hendricken.

In retrospect, that thought isn’t far-fetched considering the Hawks captured their 18th state championship in school history by sweeping North Kingstown by scores of 5-1 and 7-4 in their best-of-three final series.

The Hawks, whose only loss in 2013 came in the second game of their best-of-three semifinal series against Johnston, have won eight titles in the last 11 years – all under veteran coach Ed Holloway.

Hendricken put Game 2 away early by scoring two runs without a hit in the second and tacking on three more in the third. The key hits in that frame were RBI singles by Lou Umberto and John Toppa.

The Hawks then put the game out of reach when they built a 7-1 lead in the fifth when Tournament Most Valuable Player Ed Markowski belted a home run – his second in the Final Four series.

Sophomore Mike McCaffrey earned the victory by tossing six innings and allowing only two runs.

Mike King went the distance in Game 1, spacing out four hits and allowing only a third-inning run. During one stretch he retired 11 of 13 Skippers.

Hendricken scored all the runs King would need in the bottom of the first, on Toppa’s single and King’s sacrifice fly.

MARINERS END LONG DROUGHT

In the 38 years that Narragansett has been playing Interscholastic League baseball, the Mariners haven’t come within a long foul ball of annexing a state title.

That drought came to an end during this year’s Division II state tournament when they swept Westerly by scores of 9-0 and 7-2 in the teams’ best-of-three finals.

Game 1 was one of the more bizarre tournament games in Interscholastic League history.

Narragansett led 3-0 in the fifth with Zach McKanna working on a no-hitter when the game was suspended because of a torrential downpour.

When play resumed the next day, McKanna completed his “no-no” replete with only two walks and 106 pitches.

Ironically, McKanna also helped himself at the plate by smacking a bases-clearing double in the sixth that broke the game open.

Unlike in Game 1, Narragansett had to rally in Game 2 because Westerly grabbed a 2-0, first-inning lead. But when the Mariners rallied they exploded – scoring six runs in the sixth with McKanna singling home the first run.

Kullen McGill later added a two-run single while Nick Shone contributed an RBI single to the outburst.

Senior Ross Hodnett, who was clipped for those two runs in the first, blanked the Bulldogs on three hits over the last six innings.

BOLT SKATERS ICED

Those of a certain age remember when Cranston East was a state hockey power...when the Thunderbolt produced superb players like Brown University grad Curt Bennett (the first-round pick of the then-Atlanta Flames), his brother Harvey Bennett, Joe Cavanaugh (who starred at Harvard), Otto Tingley, Lloyd Sheehan and Doug Smith.

But those days became a distant memory. And now they’re extinct because the Cranston School Committee recently voted to drop boys’ hockey because of a lack of numbers.

After the 2012-13 season, only seven players were left on the roster.

The reasons were the decline in numbers are various in nature, ranging from the cost of playing youth hockey (which discouraged families from signing up youngsters) to an influx of Asian and Hispanic boys who’s interest in sports was more inclined to soccer.

As a result, the school that has seven state championship banners to its credit will send its remaining players to arch-rival Cranston West where, for at least one year, a co-op team will take to the ice.

Cranston East thus became the second public school to drop hockey during the past academic year.

Pawtucket’s Tolman High announced during the season that it also was dropping the sport, again for a lack of numbers.

HUSKIES DOUBLE FAULT

Cranston East isn’t the only school that’s dropping a sport for 2013-14.

Mount Hope is cutting strings to boys’ tennis and instead adding boys’ volleyball.

Again, a lack of interest was the primary reason for the Huskies stepping permanently off the court.

A FIRST FOR FOOTBALL

After getting throttled for too many years by the Connecticut All-Stars in an inter-state game, Rhode Island instituted its own All-Star Football Game.

The East All-Stars defeated the West, 21-14, with Route 95 serving as the dividing line.

Portsmouth’s Matt Greenman and Bobby Chavous were the stars for the East.

The West led 14-13 entering the third quarter when Chavous threw a 77-yard bomb to Greenman for what proved to be the winning score.

Greenman also returned a punt 70 yards for a score while Chavous connected with Cumberland’s Mitch Baxter for a 23-yard TD pass.

HIGHEST LACROSSE HONOR

Barrington’s Kelly Dolan and Maddie Soutier, Lincoln School’s Larson Bennett and Moses’ Brown’s Hannah Langmuir each have been named to the Rhode Island Chapter of the U.S. Lacrosse High School All-American Team.

Dolan, who finished the season with 63 goals and 20 assists and who will be playing lacrosse next year at Dartmouth, also received the Jackie Pitts Award for “service to the sport of girls’ lacrosse.”

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.