The Warwick Continental 12-year-old all-star team put itself in a tough spot with a loss to Narragansett in its first game of the District 3 Tournament.
Since then, though, Continental has done all it can to climb back into contention.
In the two games since Thursday’s tough-to-take 11-9 loss to Narragansett, Continental has won by a combined score of 25-1, playing much closer to the level that it expected when the tournament began.
“I can’t complain,” Continental manager Al Mann said. “Ever since the first game jitters, we’ve been playing really good.”
The Narragansett game could have signaled the beginning of the end for Continental, as Narragansett came back from a 9-7 deficit in the sixth inning to win 11-9.
Max Laurie paced Narragansett with three home runs – including the eventual game-winner – dropping Continental to the losers’ bracket.
That’s where it found its groove.
Playing Westerly on Saturday, Continental cruised to a 10-0 victory behind strong pitching from Matt Martinez and three home runs.
Then, on Sunday, it picked up right where it left off. Dylan Palmiotti was dominant on the mound, as he allowed only run in 4.1 innings, and the offense teed off on three different South Kingstown American pitchers on the way to a 15-1 win. It was the third straight game in which Continental hit three home runs.
“This is best team I’ve had since 2008,” Mann said. “I might have had a little bit better pitching then, but I’ve got better hitters now and some great defense.”
Continental actually went down 1-2-3 in the first inning to South Kingstown pitcher Seth Vallee, but then jumped out in front in the second.
Palmiotti walked to start off the frame, and he advanced all the way to the plate on wild pitches. Connor Haley also walked, and a single by Marcus Alexander and a walk to Jeff Venter loaded the bases with just one out.
Martinez, the No. 9 hitter, stepped in, and he roped a double to center field, scoring two for a 3-0 lead. A double from Isaiah Mylers made it 5-0.
Palmiotti kept the score there by retiring 10 of the first 11 batters he faced – seven by strikeout – and Continental kept pouring it on in the third.
Haley doubled to open the inning and two batters later, Marcus Alexander lofted a home run to left off reliever David Benson to make it 7-0.
That ended Benson’s night, as South Kingstown American went to the bullpen for Max Hempe.
Continental went on to hit two more home runs, both off the bat of Mylers. He hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning and hit a three-run shot in the sixth inning. Mylers went 3-for-4 on the day with seven RBI.
His two home runs gave him three in three games, as he also hit one against Westerly.
“We hit three home runs in each game,” Mann said. “Every game. Seven of the 13 players have hit the home runs.”
South Kingstown American scored its run in the fourth when Hempe doubled with one out and Robbie Sunderland doubled him in, but that would be the extent of the damage. Palmiotti got out of the inning, and then struck out the first batter of the fifth before reaching 65 pitches and being pulled for Ryan Carlson.
Carlson pitched the last 1.2 innings, allowing just two singles.
“[Palmiotti] only threw 65 pitchers,” Mann said. “I took a risk by pulling him – I like to win the game – but now I’ve got all my pitchers for Thursday. Every one of them is available. We’re in pretty good shape.”
Continental also scored a run in the fourth on a safety squeeze bunt from Palmiotti, and Martinez added a two-run double in the sixth before Mylers’s second home run of the game.
Hempe was pulled with one out in the sixth, giving way to Peter Torphy, who got the final two outs.
Palmiotti’s line read 4.1 innings, one run, two hits, one walk and 10 strikeouts. He didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning.
At the plate, Mylers had the big day, and Alexander had two hits, including his home run. Martinez went 3-for-3 with two doubles and a triple, plus four RBI.
Continental’s next task is to try to keep it up, as it is still just one loss away from being eliminated. Its next game is scheduled for Thursday against Coventry National at home at 5:30 p.m.
Coventry National beat Warwick West Side 9-5 on Sunday to advance.
The winner of Thursday’s game will take on East Greenwich on Monday.
“I think nine runs in Narragansett, we should have won with nine,” Mann said. “If you get five runs you shouldn’t lose a game. But overall? I’m very happy with this team.”