The Warwick Continental 9/10-year-old all-star team did everything it could do to hang around for the first three innings in its first-round game against Barrington in the state tournament on Saturday.
But in the fourth inning, it played itself right out of the game.
Barrington scored 14 times in that fourth, turning a competitive 3-1 game into a 17-1 lead. That turned out to be the final score, as Continental fell in just four innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
It was a disappointing inning that seemingly came out of nowhere.
“We were down 3-1 going into the fourth and everything just went wrong,” Continental manager Al Mann said. “We couldn’t do anything right. We couldn’t get anybody out.”
Continental went through five pitchers during the frame – Cam Riley, Nick Gehelsky, Matt Prescott, Andrew Ekroth and Shawn Phillips – before finally retiring the side.
The inning was marred by errors, misplays and only an occasional hit. Barrington scored nine times in the inning before Continental even recorded an out.
“I don’t have any excuse,” Mann said. “I was embarrassed. We work too hard with that team to have a meltdown like that. They just couldn’t do anything right.”
Once everything happened, it steadily spiraled more and more out of control. Players threw to the wrong bases or threw to the wrong cutoff men, allowing Barrington to continually take the extra base.
“The other team, I don’t think is that much better than us,” Mann said. “It’s just that we didn’t play the game that we were supposed to play. They threw to the wrong bases, they threw to the wrong cutoff man or airmailed it. It was everybody.”
Early on, it looked like either team’s game to win.
Continental took a 1-0 lead and had a runner thrown out at the plate. Barrington answered back with three quick ones, one of which came on a controversial call in which Mann though a runner had left the base early following a caught pop-up.
That was all the damage, though, until the fourth. Then, it got out of hand quickly. Continental committed errors on the first four balls put in play during the inning.
When it was all over, Mann wanted his team to forget about what happened, not blame anybody and simply move on.
“I read them the riot act,” Mann said. “I said, ‘I want no finger pointing, we lost this game together. I don’t want there to be finger pointing on this team.’”
Continental’s next game is an elimination match-up with Cranston Western today at 5:30 p.m. at Silver Lake Little League in Olneyville. Western lost 8-5 to Lincoln on Saturday, and, after watching that game, Mann knows what to expect.
“I think Lincoln was the bigger team,” Mann said. “I thought Cranston West was the better-coached team. Lincoln made lot of mistakes but they got away with it.”
The winner of the match-up with Continental and Western will move on to play Barrington, which lost 12-11 to Lincoln on Sunday.
“We’re still in it, and it’s an accomplishment to get where they are now,” Mann said. “But I’m confident that we can get it back against Cranston Western.”
Almost every pitcher will be available for Continental, as only Riley is ineligible after exceeding the pitch-count limit in Saturday’s game.