Early returns are in and there’s not much Flood Auto manager Bryan Leahey can complain about.
Monday night’s 5-2 win over the Cranston Dirtdawgs in Connie Mack League play saw Flood make a number of in-game adjustments, the team never trailing while playing opportunistic baseball to improve to 2-0 on the season.
“To be honest, I don’t think there’s anything I could complain about,” Leahey said after the game at Fay Memorial Field. “We jumped out to a 2-0 lead and they came back on us, but our guys kept fighting and kept working.”
Flood led 2-0 before Cranston (2-2) ever had a chance to bat, with Pat Thomas knocking in Scott Dickervitz on a fielder’s choice and Ty Bernal singling home A.J. Guindon in the top of the first inning.
Dirtdawgs starting pitcher Jake Robison escaped further damage by striking out the next three hitters, giving Cranston hope by putting out the flames of an impending blowout.
P.J. Thomas drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the second to pull the Dirtdawgs within a run, while Jordan Lugo tied the game by trotting home on a wild pitch in the bottom of the third.
As quickly as Cranston had pulled even, Flood retook the lead for good in the following frame. With two men on and two outs, Manny Urbaez took a Robison offering and found the gap in left-center field and cruised into second with a standup double – Flood’s first and only extra base hit of the game.
“I was looking for a fastball, ahead in the count,” Urbaez recalled. “Something to drive, and I got it.”
Urbaez played a role in handing Flood an insurance run in the top of the sixth inning, as well. Guindon had led off the inning with a single, stealing both second and third base while Urbaez stood in at the dish.
Urbaez swung and missed at strike three, but the pitch got away from Dirtdawgs catcher Jay Filipone. He recovered the ball almost immediately, but hesitated between getting Urbaez at first or attempting to pick off Guindon at third.
After pump faking to third, Filipone fired on to first, where Urbaez had already reached safely. First baseman Noah Rennick came home with the ball, but the speedy Guindon had perfectly executed the delayed steal for his fifth stolen base of the game and more importantly, a 5-2 lead for Flood.
“He’s smart on the base paths,” Leahey said of Guindon. “He knows what he’s doing out there, which is a big plus for us.”
Mason Carr pitched the first three innings for Flood, allowing the two earned runs on one hit. He worked around six walks, forcing the Dirtdawgs to leave six runners on base in the first three innings. Carr also struck out two Cranston hitters.
Rob Whelan came out of the bullpen for the next three innings and held the Dirtdawgs off the scoreboard, giving up two hits and walking just one while striking out five. He got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the fifth inning, which began with an Eric Caron double for Cranston’s lone extra base knock of the contest.
“They got a couple of runs in an inning where they had a couple guys on, and that guy hit a nice bomb for a double,” Dirtdawgs manager Bob Blackurn said, referring to Urbaez’s hit. “We followed it with a leadoff double and then the couple of guys up after couldn’t get him in. You want to get your guys on first and then get the big hit. We had it backwards.”
Christian Tejada worked a perfect seventh inning for the save, inducing back-to-back groundouts to the mound before ending the game with a strike out of Anthony Florenz.
Leahey said he was proud of the way his team hung on in those last few innings.
“That’s basically what we are, those dirt dog types like Trot Nixon and the rest of those ’04 Sox,” Leahey said. “That’s always been our mentality and I think we’ve got a good team set up this year for it.”