WESTERLY — In contrast to its regular season, which resembled a part-time summer baseball experience, the Rhode Island Connie Mack playoffs have the potential to be a daily grind of postseason atmosphere.
While most high school summer leagues, Babe Ruth or Little Leagues are winding down, Connie Mack (14- to 18) offers four rounds of best-of-three postseason series. Stonington, third-seeded after a 12-3 regular season, hopes its 13-1 mercy-rule win over No. 6 East Providence Monday in a preliminary series is a statement that it wants to be in the playoff long haul.
Drew Champagne of Stonington pitched all five innings, allowing one hit. Mike Fiore of Westerly led Stonington's offense with a triple, double, single and three RBIs.
"To an extent, Connie Mack playoffs are like playing a second season," Stonington coach Nate Cahoone said. "We played 15 regular-season games, two games a week and sometimes less became of rescheduling. Now we have a chance to play as many as 12 in a 15-day period. We're totally confident to play as long as possible and are hungry for success."
Cahoone said the players prefer playing more baseball than Connie Mack offered.
"Kids asked to practice during the season," Cahoone said. "I think we're built to do well in the playoffs. We have pitching depth and depth overall. I don't want to get too cliche-ish, but it's like Bill Belichick saying everyone has their job to do. We'll use all 15 players."
Champagne retired the first nine East Providence batters in order, squandering just one hit in the fourth inning when the Cimalore Field visitors scored their only run to make it 4-1.
"I was just trying to hit my spots with Mike Fiore behind the plate," Champagne said. He struck out five. "This is a confidence booster for the playoffs, because we we're great late in the season. But we're excited about the playoffs. You don't get the opportunity to play with your rivals from Westerly. This is a good bonding experience."
In the first inning, Jackson Shaffer singled and scored on Fiore's triple to right center. Fiore scored on an error — one of eight East Providence made.
Dean Pons (2-for-3) singled home a run in the third and scored on Koby Vargas' groundout to make it 4-0.
Stonington blew the game open with a nine-run fifth. Dorian White and Fiore each delivered two-run hits. Jacob Joyce (2-for-3), Sam Casadei and Champagne also singled in runs.
Stonington will try to close out the quarterfinal series at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in East Providence with Isaac Martin on the mound.
"We feel good with Drew, Isaac and Dean Pons in the rotation," Cahoone said. "We're going up there to close it out in two."
Second-seeded Coventry or No. 7 Slocum await the winner of this series in a best-of-three quarterfinal series, which starts Friday.