The Warwick PAL 14-year-old all-star team got its Babe Ruth state title defense off on the right foot on Sunday with a dominant victory Cranston.
On Monday, Warwick kept it up.
Playing Portsmouth, which had defeated Newport/Middletown on Sunday, Warwick got a dominant start on the mound from Elijah Brown and some timely hits in the late innings to pick up an 8-1 victory.
In two games, Warwick has now outscored its opponents 15-3 and has used just two pitchers. David DeFusco went the distance against Cranston, and Brown pitched the entire game against Portsmouth.
The two victories have Warwick in the winner’s bracket final against North Providence/Smithfield, which was scheduled for Wednesday night. Results were unavailable at press time.
North Providence/Smithfield beat Coventry 9-8 on Monday to advance.
“We’ll take it one game at a time, but tonight is a big game for us,” Warwick manager Bob Creamer said. “If we win this, we’ll be sitting in the driver’s seat come Friday.”
Last year, as 13-year-olds, Warwick captured the state crown and is now just two wins away from doing it again. With a win over North Providence/Smithfield, Warwick would advance to the title game on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Cranston Stadium. It would need to be beaten twice to be eliminated. A winner-take-all game, if necessary, would be played on Friday following the first game.
With a loss to North Providence/Smithfield, Warwick would fall to the loser’s bracket final and would play today at 7 p.m. at Cranston Stadium. Warwick would need to win three consecutive games to win the title in that scenario.
But right now, Warwick can thank Brown for the position its in. The right-hander, who started on the varsity team at Moses Brown as a freshman this spring, was on his game.
“He was on,” Creamer said. “He had at least 12, 13 strikeouts. He was on fire.”
The offense, on the other hand, didn’t get going for a while. Against Cranston, Warwick scored three runs in the first two innings and never looked back. Against Portsmouth, it wasn’t quite the same.
After four innings, Warwick led only 3-1.
Yet, it woke up. In the fifth and sixth innings, it put five more runs on the board – with a DeFusco double breaking the game open – giving Brown plenty of breathing room as he finished the job.
“We weren’t our best at the plate at the beginning of the game,” Creamer said. “We finally woke up in the fifth inning and then were back to our normal selves.”
And because of that, Warwick is moving closer and closer to another crown.
“We’re not looking past tonight, that’s for sure,” Creamer said.