After staying alive with a win on Saturday, the Warwick West Side 12-year-old all-stars were eliminated from the district tournament Sunday night with a 9-5 loss to Coventry National.
West Side jumped out to an early lead when it amassed three runs after the first two and a half innings of play.
However, Coventry National answered in the bottom of the third with six runs of its own for a 6-3 lead, putting the game out of reach for West Side.
West Side pitcher John Fleming cruised through the first two innings, before running into some trouble in the bottom of the third.
Manager George Mantaian was pleased with his hurler’s gutsy performance. One bad inning proved to be West Side’s undoing.
“He really didn’t pitch much at all this year,” Mantaian said. “He did a good job starting out there. We were kind of short on our pitching staff. That one bad inning really seemed to tell it all. Other than that, the kids played well. They hit the ball well. Just that one inning kind of ruined the game for us.”
West Side was able to strike first in the top of the first. An error by the Coventry National third baseman on a ground ball off the bat of Ryan Mantaian allowed Matt Woods to score from third, giving West Side a 1-0 edge.
West Side then added to the lead in the top of the third when a missile off the bat of Bobby Hazelwood cleared the right-center field fence for a two-run homer.
“Bobby Hazelwood has been a big hitter for this league all year,” Mantaian said. “We don’t expect big things from Bobby, he just brings it along. He actually pitched a big game the first game of the tournament. We ended up losing the game, but he struck out 11 of their batters. He’s not only one of the best hitters in our league, he’s one of the best pitchers as well.”
Coventry National increased its lead in the latter innings, tacking on one in the fourth and two in the fifth, for a 9-3 cushion.
West Side showed fight till the end, adding two runs in its final at-bats. Fleming scored from third on a groundout by Woods, before Woods came around to score on an RBI single by Hazelwood, making the final score 9-5.
Although his team came up short, Mantaian was pleased with the guts his team showed.
“We came in with our chips down,” Mantaian said. “We lost our number one player to a broken arm and at the start of this game we had a player get injured. Here we are with a roster of 12 and we end up playing with a roster of only ten. But the kids stayed tough, they kept plugging along and playing. We just had that one bad inning. If that inning didn’t turn out that way, it’s a whole different ball game.”
There was also much to be proud of from the previous game, when West Side knocked off North Kingstown 12-1 in four innings thanks to the mercy rule.
Ryan Mantaian pitched the whole game, allowing five hits but twice getting out of innings thanks to double lays.
Offensively, West Side piled up 11 hits against four different North Kingstown pitchers. It scored one run in the first, three in the third and eight in the fourth to finish off the job.
Anthony Witherstone led the way at the plate, going 2-for-3 with three RBI. Ty Morgan also went 2-for-3 and knocked in two runs, while Joe Deliello went 2-for-2 and Fleming was 2-for-3.
West Side lost to East Greenwich 5-0 in its tournament opener.