When Warwick lost its second game of the 14-year-old Babe Ruth state tournament to Coventry over the weekend, it knew it was going to be a long road back to where it wanted to end up.
Monday, it took the first step on that road. Playing Providence, Warwick staved off elimination with a 15-6 victory. It advanced to the loser’s bracket semifinal opposite West Warwick on Wednesday, with the results unavailable at press time.
Including the West Warwick game, Warwick needs four more consecutive wins to take the state championship.
It’s moving one game at a time.
“This was obviously the best game – offense and defense – that we’ve played so far in the tournament,” said manager Bob Denis.
There wasn’t much to complain about. After a lackluster performance both offensively and defensively against Coventry in an 8-2 loss Sunday, Warwick banged out 20 hits against Providence and got solid pitching from both Zach D’Andrea and Sean Blanchard.
It was the type of performance that Denis knows his team will need if it wants to get itself back into the mix.
“The top of our lineup came through,” Denis said. “Not they haven’t come through in the past, but they really came through.”
Warwick’s leadoff hitter, Matt Woods, went 4-for-5 with two RBI, No. 2 man Matt Martinez went 3-for-5 with a double and 3 RBI, No. 3 hitter Dylan Palmiotti was 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI, clean-up hitter Kyle Denis was 4-for-5 with a double and 2 RBI and No. 5 hitter Colin Csoszor went 2-for-4.
No. 10 batter Evan O’Connor had two hits as well.
“We came out and we hit,” Bob Denis said.
Warwick scored one run in the first inning, six in the third and five more in the fourth to take a commanding lead, but in the fifth Providence finally got to D’Andrea and made a game of it.
D’Andrea, the starter, had thrown four scoreless innings. He started to labor, though, and Warwick brought in Devin O’Rourke, who also struggled.
Warwick went to the bullpen again and brought in Blanchard, who settled things by retiring the final batter of the inning. Still, Providence scored five times, bringing it within 12-5.
Warwick thought it might have reason for concern.
“The game was turning,” Denis said. “We as coaches, even though we had that lead, there is no comfortable lead in baseball. We were a little nervous, because the momentum was shifting.”
As it turned out, Warwick was just fine. Blanchard pitched the final two innings, striking out five batters and allowing just one run.
“Sean came in and he shut them down,” Denis said.
Meanwhile, Warwick’s offense plated three more runs from the fifth to the seventh inning to give it plenty of breathing room as it finished of the win.
“Our guys stuck to the gameplan,” Denis said.
Up next is West Warwick, and if Warwick were to get past that game it would play a re-match with Coventry in the loser’s bracket final Thursday.
Coventry lost to Cranston 5-2 Tuesday in the winner’s bracket final
“When we played Coventry before, the score didn’t indicate the game,” Denis said. “Everyone is playing to their potential now.”
Warwick will also get Ronald Minear back going forward, who missed the games against Coventry and Providence due to a toe injury.