|Laferriere stands tall on mound|
|Wednesday, 11 June 2008|
WEST WARWICK — In the span of three pitches to Lincoln Middle School lead-off hitter Kyle Jackson, Feinstein starter Matt Laferriere went from nearly walking the first batter of the game, to showing the Lions how dominant he can be.
Laferriere, after throwing three straight balls to the Lion to start yesterday’s RIPCOA state title game, followed with three overpowering fastballs that Jackson couldn’t catch up with for a strikeout. The at-bat showed Feinstein coach Justin Howman that his ace was ready for the showdown, a game the Falcons eventually won 2-1.
“I was definitely expecting this from him, he’s a power pitcher and he doesn’t let much bother him,” Howman said. “He blocks everything else out and when the going gets tough, he’s able to pull through.
“When the kids came in after the first inning I told them ‘That’s it, Matt just set the tone for the game.’ In that little example, regardless if we fall behind, he showed what he could do.”
The first inning was a microcosm of the ensuing six innings for the lanky eighth-grader because Laferriere spent the afternoon pitching from behind. And while that is usually a recipe for disaster, Laferriere used his 70+ mile-per-hour fastball to bail him out.
Laferriere did walk four batters in seven innings, but none of them scored because he struck out eight batters and only allowed three singles, two of which didn’t leave the infield.
“I just went out and pitched the best I can, I knew I needed to keep the ball low so I could get some groundballs,” Laferriere said. “I was definitely throwing the hardest I have all season. My intensity was high for all seven innings and it worked out.”
Troy Fredette, the eighth-grader who spent the entire season catching Laferriere and John Croft, was impressed with the way the Feinstein ace pitched on the mound at McCarthy.
“He definitely throws the hardest of anyone I’ve caught,” Fredette, who went 2-for-3 with a run scored, said. “On top of his fastball, he has a pretty good curveball which drops like 12 inches. He throws a variety of other pitches which are really good. He was really on. He would get behind in the counts but he kept his confidence up to come back and strike the kid out.”
In the second inning, with two outs, Laferriere again fell behind a hitter 3-0, but he fought back to a throw a strike to Alex Howard. With the count 3-1, Howard grounded a fastball to Richard Bacon for the final out of the inning.
Laferriere wasn’t perfect as he walked Nick Zamarelli to start the third and fifth innings. In the third inning, Laferreire fell behind 2-0 and in the fifth inning Zamarelli built up a 3-0 advantage before walking.
But, when Lincoln put a man on base, Laferriere was even more impressive. With runners on base, the Lions were a combined 0-for-11, two of the balls were hard hit but centerfielder Brandon Sullivan made nice plays to track them down.
“I really tried not to lose the battle with runners on because, as you could see, there weren’t many runs scored,” Laferriere said. “I just had to do the best I could to get the ball in the zone and make them hit it.”
As good as Laferriere was in the first five innings, he was equally matched by soft-tossing Lincoln lefty Andrew Vega. Vega, who only allowed two unearned runs, used a well-placed fastball along with his nice curveball to keep Feinstein’s fabulous offense off balance.
The Falcons, who came in averaging 14.3 hits and 13 runs a game in the playoffs, were held to just four hits by Vega. It was the third straight lefty the Falcons faced and Howman still can’t figure out why his team struggled against the southpaw.
“He hit his spots better than the last two pitches we faced, he did have the kids a little off balance with his pitches,” Howman said. “Lincoln is a very well coached team, I know (Lincoln coach) Joe Conti very well and he does a nice job with his kids.”
Feinstein finally tagged Vega for back-to-back hits in the sixth inning which led Conti to bring in Frank Domato to end the inning. Feinstein added another run in the inning to aid Laferriere’s cause.
Even in the final inning, when Laferriere allowed an unearned run on a passed ball, the Falcon was still dominating the 2006 state championships. The first batter of the inning, Nick Morrow, flew out to Bacon. Alex Howard did single, but it was a weak infield single to the left side of the infield. After a walk and a sacrifice bunt, Laferriere stranded the tying run at third base by overpowering Jackson with one of his best fastballs of the game.
“It was a great way to end the game,” Laferriere said of his final pitch in a Feinstein uniform.
|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 11 June 2008 )|