The Warwick American 12-year-old all-stars regrouped after a tough opening-round game and played solid baseball in Saturday’s elimination game against Exeter/West Greenwich.
Unfortunately for American, EWG was even more solid.
EWG starter Damon Coleman pounded the strike zone and needed just 75 pitches to toss a complete game, the defense didn’t make an error and the offense broke out late as EWG eliminated the American stars with a 7-0 victory.
“We couldn’t capitalize on any loose ends,” said American manager Scott Allspach. “They pretty much played mistake-free baseball. My hat’s off to them.”
American was coming off a 14-2 loss to Warwick National in its tournament opener and looked like it might be in trouble again when EWG loaded the bases in the top of the first inning. But American starter Mike Mester got out of the jam with only one run coming in. A ground ball to Eric Johnson at first ended the threat.
From there, Mester settled in. He worked around two hits to pitch a scoreless second then tossed a quick one-two-three third.
But Coleman, EWG’s starter, was just as good. Eddy Sass doubled in the first, but Coleman struck out the side around that hit. He then pitched a perfect second before working around another double in the third, this one by Devin O’Rourke.
Throughout, Coleman consistently got ahead of hitters. He didn’t walk a batter and went to a three-ball count just twice. He ended up striking out nine while allowing just five hits.
“Their pitcher was dominant,” Allspach said. “He was throwing all strikes. And their catcher (Doug LaCombe) was unbelievable. There wasn’t one passed ball the whole game.”
And the EWG offense eventually gave Coleman some breathing room. C.J. Charpentier had an RBI single and Tanner Clark brought in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. In the fifth, Mason Carr and Timothy Murley hit back-to-back doubles to bring in another run and chase Mester. Charpentier drove in a run off reliever Mike Sollenberger before Matt Gordey plated two with a single, making it a 7-0 game.
Sollenberger kept American within striking distance by pitching a scoreless sixth, but Coleman wouldn’t hear of a comeback. Rich Bateman singled with two outs to keep American alive, but Coleman came back to finish the game with a strikeout.
“We came up against a good pitcher and a good team,” Allspach said. “ We looked good out there. You just can’t win them all. We had some good hits, and they made some good defensive plays. They made some nice catches on balls that went out there pretty good.”
The loss ended tournament play for the American stars, but playing well after the opening-round loss stood out as a positive. The team will now try to help get the 11-year-old team ready for its tournament.
“Our guys never gave up. I’m proud of them,” Allspach said. “We’re going to do what we can to help out the 10 and 11-year-olds. Then we’ll look into fall ball with these kids.”