This year’s Warwick PAL Babe Ruth 15-year-old all-star team was extremely familiar with its opponent on Saturday in the opening game of the state tournament.
Unfortunately, Warwick was also familiar with the result.
Playing Cranston, the team that knocked off this group in the state finals as 13 and 14-year-olds, Warwick got strong pitching but couldn’t get the bats going.
The result was a 3-0 loss and trip to the loser’s bracket, where Warwick will have an uphill climb to get back to the finals for the third consecutive year.
It will take six consecutive wins now for Warwick to claim the title.
“Obviously the biggest problem for us is that you can’t win any game when there’s a goose egg on the board,” Warwick manager Kurt Rix said. “We just didn’t have the offense we needed to stay in the game.”
Danny Greaves started the game and threw five innings for Warwick, while Michael McCaffrey pitched the final two.
“Our pitching and defense was fabulous,” Rix said. “They just got their runs off some timely hits.”
And while they combined for a solid effort against a team that is traditionally one of the top hitting clubs in the state, Cranston starter Kemi Idowu was even better.
Idowu allowed just three hits, and worked his way out of multiple jams to keep Warwick off the board.
“Unfortunately, he did a very nice job against us,” Rix said.
The game was scoreless through the first three innings before Cranston came through with some timely hitting over the final four innings to push across its three runs.
Meanwhile, Warwick did the opposite.
It had first and second with nobody out in the fifth and the bases loaded with one out in the sixth, an both teams it came up empty.
“We came up empty-handed,” Rix said. “We had our opportunities, we just couldn’t get that clutch hit.”
Not helping matters for Warwick was Cranston’s defense, which played nearly mistake free baseball for all seven innings.
“They were pretty much error free, with the exception of one drop in the outfield,” Rix said. “They played some great defense, and we just couldn’t get the bats going.”
Still, Warwick can take some solace in the fact that they’ve come out of the loser’s bracket the last two years to face Cranston.
Last year, they beat Cranston in the first game of the finals to force a winner-take-all championship game, and they came up just short.
The year before, the tournament came down to one final game as well, with Cranston prevailing.
“I definitely think it was frustrating for the guys because we’ve gone back and forth with them for years,” Rix said. “We need to get the leg up on them one of these years.”
Warwick’s next game was scheduled for Monday against North Providence, with the results unavailable at press time.
“All three years we’ve had to make our way through the loser’s bracket to get back to the finals,” Rix said. “I’m hoping we can do it again.”