LEOMINSTER – Have a night, Ricky Marrama.
The Leominster fireballer pitched what may have been his best performance on the season’s biggest stage as the Leominster Little League All Star team kicked off Massachusetts Section 1 Tournament play with a convincing 7-0 victory over Rutland on Tuesday evening at Ronnie Bachand Memorial Field.
District 3 champion Leominster will host District 2 champion Longmeadow, a 6-3 winner over D1 champion Adams/Cheshire, back at Ronnie Bachand Field on Wednesday night.
Rutland will travel to Adams/Cheshire on Wednesday for an elimination contest.
Marrama was lights out on Tuesday for the hosts as he tossed five and a third innings of scoreless baseball while allowing just one hit. Marrama also recorded 15 strikeouts.
“I was really happy with the way they came out tonight,” said Leominster skipper Jeff Coco. “Ricky was just aces tonight. He’s an 11-year-old kid and sometimes you look at him and forget he’s 11 because he’s such a big kid. He had composure, he had everything tonight. He came out firing in that first inning. He was throwing gas all night long.”
Leominster wasted no time attacking Rutland and starting pitcher Dean Bennett. The hosts erupted for five runs in the first frame, taking advantage of three Rutland errors. Rutland would commit five defensive miscues in the game Tuesday. RBI singles by Matt Coco and Tim LeBlanc highlighted the first-inning offensive explosion. Geo Borges and Marrama also delivered hits in the first inning.
“The whole strategy was just to put the ball in play and good things will happen. It’s Little League baseball, kids make mistakes,” said Coco. “The grass was a little slick tonight, we wanted to just put pressure on them (and see what happens.”
Marrama went back to the hill with a five-run cushion and continued to dominate. The only base hit Rutland could muster came in the third inning. With two outs in the frame, Rutland’s Ben Crowne laid down a bunt that Marrama charged to field. The Leominster pitcher lost his footing and slipped before getting up and making a late throw to first base that Crowne beat. The ball got away from the first baseman and Crowne advanced to second on the play.
The hit proved to be no big deal to Marrama, who struck out the next hitter to end the threat.
“My concentration was really important today. It helped me throw strikes,” said Marrama. “Knee over knee and finishing down. It was really important. Scoring those runs early on really helped take some of the pressure off. We knew Rutland had a couple of pitchers that really throw hard but we were able to hit them today.”
Leominster tacked on two more insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth inning thanks to a clutch two-run RBI single by Mike Lemieux that plated Adam Rendon and Brady Cuddahy, who reached base safely earlier in the inning.
Marrama entered the final inning just under the 85-pitch maximum pitch count and took to the mound to start the top of the sixth inning. Marrama threw to just one batter in the sixth, finishing his evening by recording his 15th strikeout. Avery Camerano was brought on in relief and he picked up right where Marrama left off. Camerano struck out the first hitter he faced before ending the ballgame with a ground out to second base.
Henry Bruun and Ryan Garner combined to scatter seven hits while throwing seven shutout innings as the Leominster Post 151 American Legion baseball team defeated Shrewsbury, 5-0, Monday afternoon in Zone 4 playoff action at Pin Cannavino Field in Leominster.
Second-seeded Leominster (17-6-1) returned to action on Tuesday against the winner of top-seeded Milford and fourth-seeded Hudson.
Bruun went four-plus innings of scoreless ball before giving way to Garner, who pitched the final three plus innings in relief.
Leominster pounded out eight hits on Monday, including a pair from Jake Richard (2-for-4, RBI). Alex Oquendo scored twice, while Tyler Godin and Tony Salvatelli each delivered RBI hits for the winners.
Monty Tech is in need of a freshman volleyball coach for this coming 2023 season. Interested candidates can contact athletic director David Reid at email@example.com or call 508-331-0371.