After the first game of the District 3 tournament, Steve Lennon didn’t think his Warwick Continental 12-year-old all-star team’s offensive production was indicative of the way the team could hit.
With another game in the books, Lennon isn’t too worried about that anymore.
Continental’s bats roared to life on Monday, as the team pounded out 17 hits in just five innings on its way to a mercy-rule shortened 13-3 victory over Warwick West Side in the loser’s bracket.
It scored just one run in a tournament-opening defeat to Wickford last week, making Monday’s performance a welcome – and necessary – change.
“Everybody started being who they are,” said Lennon, Continental’s manager. “We did a couple of shuffles in the lineup, but no big changes. They went up there and attacked strikes and let the bad ones go by. That’s baseball, right?”
Cody Anter led the attack from his leadoff spot, going 4-for-4 with a home run, a double and three RBI, while five other players had multiple hits.
Continental scored four runs in the first, two in the second, four in the third and three in the fifth.
“I’m very pleased,” Lennon said. “Definitely a flip-flop from the last game, when the bats were a little quiet. Tonight they were more aggressive and it paid off.”
For West Side, the loss marked the end of the road. It won its first game over Warwick American last week, but after consecutive losses to Coventry National and then Continental, the tournament door closed.
No one was hanging their heads.
“This is their last year in majors at West Side,” West Side manager Dave Gallagher said. “They’re going to be going to the big diamond or 50/70. But whatever it is, continue on. Don’t make this the end. Be proud of yourself. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
West Side started the game off well enough on Monday, getting a two-out, top of the first inning home run from Jake White off of Continental starter Darek Lallo to take an early 1-0 lead.
But Continental immediately erased its deficit against West Side starter Aaron Rastella, and never looked back. Anter and Lallo led off the bottom of the first with hits, and Max Macchioni singled in the team’s first run two batters later.
Continental kept it rolling, hitting balls hard on the infield that kept finding holes or eating up West Side defenders. Mike Rossner singled in two runs and Will Niles brought home another, making it 4-1.
“We made some errors at the beginning,” Gallagher said. “We didn’t adjust to the field. I don’t think they were really ready for this particular field. I don’t think they’ve ever played on this field. It’s fast.”
West Side came back with another run in the top of the second on an infield error, but Continental doubled that output with two more in the home half of the inning. Anter led off with a home run to center field, and two batters later, Tyler Gaumitz singled in Lallo for a 6-2 lead.
Anter’s home run continued his hot pace in the first two games. So far in the tournament, he’s 7-for-7.
“Cody had a heck of a game,” Lennon said. “He’s always been one of the top players in this league and I’m glad to see him having success. Nothing rattles him.”
Again West Side scored a run in its turn up to bat, as Rastella doubled in Ethan Laramee, yet Continental took a commanding lead thanks to a huge third inning of its own.
Continental scored four times, as Josh Costello, Anter, Lallo and Ryan Lennon all had hits in the frame. When the dust settled it was 10-3.
“I knew what we were in for,” Gallagher said. “We definitely had our hands full.”
In the fifth, Continental finished the job. Anter led off with his fourth hit of the game and he scored on a double by Lallo. West Side brought on Thomas Mullane in relief, and after he retired the first batter, Max Macchioni hit an RBI single. Three batters later, with the bases loaded, Mullane hit Gaumitz to force in the game-ending run.
Lallo earned the win for Continental, going the distance on the mound and allowing just five hits while walking two and striking out five.
“I gave him a hard time for giving up three runs,” Steve Lennon joked. “But he pitched a great game.”
Continental was scheduled to play again Wednesday against East Greenwich, with the results unavailable at press time. If it were to win that game, it would advance to play Wickford – which it lost to 11-1 in its first game – on Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
Continental will need to win six times consecutively to capture the district title.