WORCESTER — Anyone in need of a refresher course about what dominant pitching can do to quality offenses needs to check out Lawrence in the American Legion Northeast Regional.
For the second straight day, Post 15 got an outstanding pitching performance, this time from Josias Mendez who was charged with one meaningless seventh-inning run, as Lawrence cruised to a 4-1 victory over Cumberland, R.I.
One of two unbeaten teams remaining in the double-elimination tournament, Post 15 will face Shrewsbury at 7 p.m. on Friday at Holy Cross’ Fitton Field.
In two games against a couple of state champions, Lawrence has allowed only one run on seven hits.
Mendez was throwing his breaking ball so well Thursday, that when Lawrence manager Julio Ramos went out to relieve his starter after a seventh-inning leadoff walk, one of the Cumberland hitters on deck was overheard saying “I know I don’t want to face this guy for a fourth time.”
That’s because Mendez never broke while struggling with location at times. He allowed no runs on four hits the first six innings with three walks and three strikeouts. But, after stranding five runners in scoring position, he was at his pitch limit when Drew Szfranski rapped that seventh-inning single.
“It was OK,” Mendez said. “(Ramos) has a lot of confidence in me, and that’s a great thing for me to have that confidence from the coaches. The big thing for me is to go out and give it 100%, let your defense work and have confidence in everyone behind you.”
Fran Minaya picked up the save for Post 15 (22-3).
“I think my curveball was falling in, but my fastball was definitely helping to back it up,” Mendez said. “It changed the eye level as well as the speed. It took a while to get in the groove to see what the umpire’s zone was. But once I got into my groove it was rolling. It was just ‘let’s go.’ “
Lawrence took the lead for good after lead-off hitter Kebler Peralta, who homered in a Game 1 victory over Nashua, tripled to the center field fence. A couple of ground outs and a wild pitch plated the Post 15 shortstop.
“My peers came out ready,” Mendez said. “Kebler with that great triple boosted my energy as much as anything could.”
Another boost came with two out in the second when John Batista lined the first pitch he saw from Cumberland starter Kyle Daluca over the 351-foot sign in left.
“The last time I hit a home run was a couple months ago,” Batista said. “I just wanted to stay aggressive and look for a first-pitch fastball.”
Lawrence added a couple insurance runs in the third when Bryan Guerrero knocked the first of his two singles and scored on another single by Luis Mejia. Peralta walked and scored on a Christian Varona fielder’s choice.
That would prove more than enough runs for Mendez, who survived a jam in the fifth with runners on first and second and no outs and the three, four, five hitters coming up. Two fly outs and his final strike out got Mendez out of the pickle.
“He usually has one or two innings that he needs to shake off,” Ramos said. “He’s been very consistent through the (tournaments). He gives us max effort every time.
“But I think today’s win, honestly, came down to (assistant) coaches Josh Valerio and Kevin Bartlett. They did a tremendous job putting the pressure on these guys, and then the pitchers came through. But those coaches do a tremendous job (coaching) on the base paths.”
Lawrence 4, Cumberland (R.I.) 0
Northeast Legion Championship Second Round
LAWRENCE POST 15 (4): Kebler Peralta ss 1-2-1, Anibal Pena 2b 3-0-0, Luis Mejia 3b 3-0-1, Christian Varona 1b 3-0-0, Henry Checo c 3-0-0, Ivinson Batista rf 3-0-0, John Batista cf 1-1-1, Luis Colon lf 2-0-0, Bryan Guerrero DH 2-1-2. Totals: 21-4-5-3
CUMBERLAND (1): Drew Szfranski cf 4-1-2, Nick Croteau 2b 2-0-0, Addison Kopack 3b 4-0-1, Steve Andrews 1b 3-0-0, David Bordieri dh 3-0-0, CJ Davock lf 3-0-1, Tyler McNulty rf 2-0-0, Reuben Hancock c 3-0-1, Shane Calabro ss 3-0-0. Totals 27-1-5
RBI: Larence — J. Batista, Mejia, Varona; Cumberland — none
HR: J. Batista (none on in second)
WP: Josias Mendez; LP: Kyle Daluca; SV: Fran Minaya;
Cumberland (31-4) 000 000 1 – 1
Lawrence (22-3) 112 000 x – 4