The Warwick Continental 12-year-old all-stars are used to summer success. They were district runners-up when they were 10 and they made a deep run last year in the 11-year-old tournament.
After a loss to Warwick West Side last Monday in the District 3 tournament, it looked like Continental was finally getting on its familiar track when it rallied from a three-run deficit to take the lead in the fourth inning of Wednesday's elimination game.
Narragansett had other ideas.
After watching Continental take a 7-4 lead, Narragansett tied the game in the fifth and won it 8-7 on a walk-off single in the bottom of the sixth to send Continental home.
"Even when we jumped on top of them, we knew they wouldn't quit," said Continental manager Peter Almonte. "It's a credit to them."
The Continental stars fell behind 3-0 in the early going but rallied for five runs in the fourth. They added two more in the fifth and were starting to feel comfortable.
But Narragansett put two runners on in the bottom of the fifth before Joey Levesque smacked a game-tying three-run homer to right-center with two outs.
When Narragansett reliever Austin McKanna retired Continental in order in the top of the sixth, the stage was set. Bryan Morvan doubled with one out in the bottom of the sixth, and John Manocchia followed with a line drive to right. Morvan raced around third with the winning run.
"They really stung us with the two-out, three-run homer in the fifth," Almonte said. "That was tough. We still thought we were okay, but when we didn't score in the sixth, we knew it was going to be difficult to shut down the top of their order. That's pretty much what happened."
Narragansett had Continental's number in the early going. Will Doyle hit a solo home run in the second inning and Levesque scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0. Narragansett made it 3-0 in the third on an RBI double by Scott Embleton.
Embleton was also on the mound, and he kept Continental off the board until the fourth.
"They made some good defensive plays and they stifled us," Almonte said.
It finally turned around in that fourth inning. Drew Almonte led off with a walk and Andrew Hopgood tripled him home. Ryan Viti then smacked a two-run homer.
Linden Padien followed with a double, Michael Kiernan knocked him in with a single and Kyle Nygren plated another run with a base hit.
After Narragansett made it 5-4 in the bottom half, Continental added two more runs in the fifth. Almonte walked and came around on a single by Hopgood and a throwing error. Padien then brought a run home on a sacrifice fly, making it 7-4.
But that's when Narragansett came back to life.
Padien allowed a single and hit a batter to put two on in the bottom of the fifth but then bounced back to get two ground-ball outs. But with runners on first and third, Levesque hit the home run to tie the game.
Continental never got momentum back.
McKanna fell behind Nygren 3-0 but fought back to 3-2 and got him to line out to first. McKanna also went to 3-2 on Colin Lento before inducing a groundout to second. Bobby Pelletier then hit a fly ball to center that was caught for the last out.
"We were hoping we would get it going in the sixth," Peter Almonte said. "If you look back on it, our leadoff hitter that inning had a 3-0 count, but their pitcher battled back and got three straight strikes. You've got to tip your hat to the pitcher. At this level, you get three balls, you've got a pretty good chance of getting on base. It just didn't work out for us."
Narragansett, on the other hand, had plenty of sixth-inning magic, and it kept Continental from staying alive. Considering its past success, the team was disappointed to make an early exit, but Almonte had no complaints.
"We're disappointed," he said. "We're accustomed to traveling far in district tournaments. To be out in two stings, but I told the kids they should hold their heads high. They battled. They didn't quit, and they represented the league very well on and off the field."