After dropping its first game of the District 3 tournament 11-9 to Narragansett, the Warwick Continental 12-year-old all-star team won three straight in convincing fashion and appeared to be poised for an even deeper run.
Someone forget to tell East Greenwich.
Continental took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning on Monday against EG, but EG fought back to take the lead in the bottom half. Continental couldn’t muster the offense to get back in the game from there on out, and it fell 4-2.
The loss ended Continental’s tournament run, and it was sudden considering how well it had been playing. It won the previous three games by a combined score of 32-5.
“I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of with this team,” Continental manager Al Mann said. “I’m disappointed. I would have liked to take them where I’ve never been and where they’ve never been. It wasn’t to be.”
The downfall on Monday was the hitting – or perhaps the EG pitching – as Continental had seven hits, but only two with runners in scoring position.
It scored only one run in the first despite having the bases loaded with nobody out after that run had scored, and it stranded at least one runner in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
That first inning, in particular, stuck out as a missed opportunity.
EG starter Joe Murray walked Isaiah Mylers to lead off the frame and Ryan Brady worked a walk to put two on with nobody out. Matt Martinez followed that with a run-scoring single, putting Continental up 1-0. A walk to Dylan Palmiotti re-loaded the bases with no one out.
But Murray got a groundout to first baseman Donnie Cassidy, who fired home for the first out, and he struck out the next man for the second. A groundout back to Murray ended the inning.
“That was a big damage point there,” Mann said. “We should have got more than one run out of that.”
EG came right back in the bottom half to tie the game off Continental starter Cristian Sanchez, as a two-out double by Russell Caramagno brought home Andrew Licciardi to make it 1-1.
Murray and Sanchez matched zeros over the next two innings until the fourth, when Continental went back on top. Sanchez singled with one out, and Mylers brought him home two batters later with a rocket double to left field. But Murray struck out the next batter, Ryan Brady, to strand Mylers and keep it a 2-1 game.
Even though it had the lead, Continental was struggling with the bats, and it seemed like it was living dangerously with the one-run edge.
“He was throwing a lot of curveballs,” Mann said of Murray. “We don’t allow curveballs here. We try to teach them a circle change. It makes it difficult, because you can’t teach the kids to hit it.”
In the bottom of the fourth, EG caught up. Sanchez gave up a single to Murray to lead off the inning, before he retired the next two men. But he walked Sam Comito and Licciardi to load the bases.
EG’s Corey Gavin then came up with the biggest hit of the game. On an 0-1 pitch, Gavin lofted a single into left-center field, scoring both runners to give EG its first lead of the day at 3-2.
EG went to the bullpen for the fifth and brought in Mitchell Gemma, and he got two quick outs before Connor Haley nearly took him out of the park to right. But Haley’s shot hit the base of the wall and he had to settle for a double.
“I thought we had three runs,” Mann said. “I thought Haley hit one out.”
Instead, Gemma struck out Cam Naylor to end the threat and keep it a one-run game.
Continental called on Matt Martinez to pitch the bottom of the fifth, and he immediately gave up a single to Jack Sommer and a double to Caramagno, putting runners at second and third with no outs. From there he pitched well, allowing just one runner to score when it looked like the game might get out of hand, but EG still had a two-run lead.
“I thought Sanchez pitched a great game, and Martinez gave up only one run after he settled down,” Mann said. “Martinez kept us in the game, but we needed to hit.”
Down 4-2, Continental came up in the top of the sixth needing two runs to stay alive. Marcus Alexander gave the team hope with a single to start off, but Gemma struck out the next two men get EG within one out of the win.
That brought up Mylers, who had three home runs during the tournament and was 2-for-2 on the day, as the tying run. EG didn’t take any chances, intentionally walking him.
“I would have walked Isaiah, too,” Mann said.
James Baldwin came up representing the go-ahead run, but he fouled out to first base after a seven-pitch battle, ending the game.
That brought the season to an abrupt end. Still, Continental was one of the final six teams remaining, and it managed to win three games in a tough district.
“It was a good game,” Mann said. “I told these guys they’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. They played their hearts out, and it just didn’t happen. A ball here, there, either way, the game changes.”