The Warwick 15-year-old Babe Ruth all-star team has met Cranston in the finals of the state tournament the past two years, as both 13 and 14-year-olds.
That won’t be happening this year.
After Cranston 3-0 in the first game of the tournament on Saturday night, it lost to Coventry the following day.
Meanwhile, Warwick defeated North Providence 9-1 on Monday, setting up an elimination game between Warwick and Cranston in the loser’s bracket on Wednesday, with the results unavailable at press time.
“We can compete with this team,” Warwick head coach Kurt Rix said. “When they have knocked us off it’s been in that last championship game, the least two years. Last year was a 4-3 game. I think they’re two very even teams. That’s why they play the games. “They‘ve just happened to edge us out the last couple of years.”
Confidence from the Warwick side stems from the game against North Providence, where it was able to put some runs on the board after being shutout in that first game against Cranston.
That was simply the biggest difference from game one to game two.
“Clearly it was much better game hitting-wise,” Rix said. “That game, most of the players in the lineup put the ball in play or got hits.”
It was consistent, too, as Warwick struck for three runs in the top of the first and then extended the lead as the game progressed.
Getting those three runs right off the bat was key, though, as it got the burden of finally scoring a run off the team’s back.
“We’ll take it,” Rix said. “We’ll take a good start like that any day.”
The hitting reminded Rix of last year where his team averaged over 10 runs a game right up until the finals.
“It’s a very strong hitting team,” Rix said. “I think the first game against Cranston was more of the anomaly then the game was on Monday. I just don’t think we got the breaks against Cranston.
Warwick also got a key hit in a key moment, as it was holding on to a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning before Danny Greaves added to it with one big swing.
With the bases loaded, Greaves hit a bases-clearing double down the left field line that made it 6-1 and provided some much-needed breathing room.
“That was big,” Rix said. “It made a big difference. “It relaxed a whole lot of people.”
Pitching-wise, Warwick impressed as well.
Michael McCaffrey started on the mound, and he surrendered only one run in five innings of work.
In the sixth, Danny Shippee came on in relief and shut the door, throwing two scoreless innings to preserve the win.
“The pitching from Mike McCaffrey and Dan Shippee was fantastic,” Rix said.
But Warwick still has a long road ahead to contend for the state championship.
Not only did it need to beat Cranston, but if it does that it would needs to win another game on Thursday in the loser’s bracket final.
That would put it in the finals, where it would need to beat its opponent twice to capture the crown.
The focus though, is on winning one game at a time.
“They seem to be our nemesis in this tournament no matter what happens,” Rix said of Cranston. “Since my son was 13, that’s been the team we’ve had to play twice in all three years. I would be shocked if it’s different. It will be an exact re-match of the Saturday’s game on the mound.”
The starting pitchers for Saturday’s game were Greaves and Cranston’s Kemi Idowu.