Blogs | Eric Benevides

Happy (Belated) Anniversary, Spinners!

A Happy Belated Anniversary goes out to the Blackstone Valley Spinners AAU Baseball Club, which last Wednesday, March 29, celebrated the 10th anniversary of the very first game ever played by one of its teams.

The Spinners’ first team was an U10 squad that played in a season-opening tournament at the Baseball Heaven complex in Long Island N.Y. According to the Spinners’ founder, John Bacon, Lincoln’s Justin Conti, who is currently pitching for Rhode Island College, singled home the game-winning run that night “in freezing temperatures” to nail down the program’s first-ever victory.

The Spinners, which were founded in October 2006 initially as an all-Lincoln travel program, have grown into one of the largest AAU travel baseball organizations in New England. The Spinners have won countless AAU league and travel tournament championships over the years, as well as opened up their teams to players outside of Lincoln. Among their top alumni are Lincoln’s Nick Zammarelli, who is currently playing in the Seattle Mariners organization, and North Smithfield’s C.J. Dandeneau, who is pitching at the University of Connecticut.

The Spinners, whose president for the past six years has been Lincoln Middle School head coach Frank Kelly, have also took pride in keeping their same philosophy over the years, noted Bacon, “to be a low-cost, local Little League friendly travel baseball program.”

A few other mid-week notes to share:

• Three local football players were honored at the Providence Gridiron Club's 24th annual Awards Night on Wednesday at the Quonset 'O' Club in North Kingstown. Shea High senior Yanique Duarte was presented with the Francis "Monk" Maznicki Award as the R.I. Back of the Year, his classmate, Gladior Kwesiah, received the Division II-B Lineman of the Year award, and Smithfield High junior Zach Pineault was named the Division III-A Lineman of the Year.

Duarte, Kwesiah, and St. Raphael Academy senior quarterback Xavier Torres will also be continuing their football careers at D-II American International College this fall.

• Matt Mardo, a senior tri-captain on last season’s Lincoln High boys’ soccer team and one of the Division II’s most versatile players, recently got accepted to Harvard University. In addition to being a very good player, Mardo has also been a mainstay each quarter on the school’s First Honors list.

• Which collegiate baseball team has the most local players on it? Johnson & Wales University, which has nine, with four of them being Tolman High alumni. The top performer of the bunch has been Scituate’s Ryan Cabral, a senior utility player who is batting .275 (11-for-40) with a team high four doubles, 10 RBIs, and 10 walks in 12 games.

• Update on Cumberland’s Chris Wright, who is a freshman outfielder/first baseman/reliever on the Bryant University baseball team: He’s batting .272 (22-for-81) with three homers and 12 RBIs in 24 games for the Bulldogs.

• And an update on former Scituate High middle infielder Nicole Venturini, who is playing for the Rhode Island College women’s softball team. She leads her team with an even .500 (19-for-38) average, collecting 12 runs and 12 RBIs in 12 games.

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