The Warwick PAL Babe Ruth 13-year-old all-stars were the only team in the state tournament to score a run off Coventry. That didn’t do much for Warwick in the bracket, but it was a reflection of how the team stacked up.
Warwick was bounced with an 8-6 loss to Cranston last Thursday. Its only two losses in the tournament were to champion Coventry and runner-up Cranston.
“Overall, I’m proud of the kids,” said manager Bob Denis. “We were right there. I think it was a good experience and like I told them, ‘You know what you need to work on. Hopefully the team comes back next year and makes a run.’”
Warwick won its first game at the tournament before losing 6-4 to Coventry. That would be the only close game the Coventry stars played – they won their other games 6-0, 10-0 and 11-0.
“I think we could have given Coventry a run for their money if we had gotten another shot at them,” Denis said.
Warwick thought it might get that shot. After the loss to Coventry, it stayed alive with a great performance in a 10-0 victory over Cumberland on Wednesday. Zach D’Andrea tossed a five-inning complete game in the mercy rule win, allowing no runs on just one hit.
The offense was led by Collin Csoszer, who got the start after coming off the bench in the first two games of the tournament. He responded by going 3-for-3 with three doubles and four RBI.
That performance was party of a steady attack for Warwick.
“Everybody contributed,” Denis said. “It was one of those games where everybody just hit.”
The win over Cumberland set up a match-up with Cranston, who had won two in a row after an opening-round loss to Coventry.
In the early part of the game, it looked like Cranston would cruise to a third straight – it jumped in front 4-0 and 7-0. Brett Traficante was dominant on the mound.
“He’s a very good pitcher and he shut us down,” Denis said. “We had very few opportunities to even generate runs.”
But Warwick didn’t go quietly. Trailing 8-2 in the seventh, it scored four runs, including one on a wild play. Matt Martinez singled and attempted to steal second. He got caught in a rundown but leaped over a tag attempt at second, then took off for third when he realized no one was covering. He fell down on his way there, and Cranston covered the bag but the throw sailed high. Martinez scampered home.
That play got Warwick’s juices flowing and the rally continued.
“Cranston was nervous,” Denis said.
Per Babe Ruth rules, a pitcher who is removed but remains in the field can return to the mound, and Cranston took advantage of that. Traficante came back to the mound and got out of a two-on, two-out jam to finish off the win.
“The way they came back was great to see,” Denis said. “They never gave up. Sometimes kids get done, but they kept their heads up. They made all the plays, they kept swinging the bats. It was just a little too late.”
With two more years of Babe Ruth baseball ahead of them, the Warwick stars will be chomping at the bit to get back on the field next summer.
“It was a great experience,” Denis said. “The kids were great, the parents were great. I can see in the future, it could be a Warwick-Coventry battle, just like it was in Little League.”
PAL 15’s fall one step short of championship round
The Warwick PAL 15-year-old all-stars were on the verge of a championship meeting with rival Cranston but a new rival got the best of them again.
Newport/Middletown, who had knocked Warwick to the loser’s bracket in the second round of the state tournament, rallied for six runs over the final two innings on Friday and eliminated Warwick with a 7-4 victory. Cranston beat Newport/Middletown for the state title, its third straight.
For Warwick, it was a tough ending.
“We played a very strong game,” said manager Billy Piccirillo. “We just came up a little bit short.”
Warwick had won two straight before Friday’s loss. It beat North Providence/Smithfield last Tuesday then got a dominant pitching performance from Avery Ingegneri to beat Coventry 4-0 on Thursday. Ingegneri struck out eight and allowed just two hits in the complete-game shutout. Coventry had battled Warwick into extra-innings in a first-round game but was no match for Ingegneri.
“He was in complete control,” Piccirillo said.
Brett D’Andrea had a double, a triple and two RBI to lead the offense, while Eric Edwards chipped in with an RBI double.
The defense was also strong behind Ingegneri.
“We played an error-free game and that’s always a winning formula,” Piccirillo said.
On Friday, Warwick seemed poised to complete its run through the loser’s bracket and grab a spot in the championship round opposite Cranston. Warwick led 3-1 in the sixth inning, and pitcher Shane Kittila was cruising.
But after a tiring Kittila got the first two outs in the sixth, Newport/Middletown finally caught up to him and strung together five straight hits. The result was a complete turnaround and Warwick couldn’t recover.
“Shane had a great performance,” Piccirillo said. “He just got a little tired and they really started hitting.”
Edwards had three hits and two RBI to lead the offense, but Newport/Middletown wouldn’t let Warwick put a comeback together.
That marked the end of the line for the team in the tournament – and in their Babe Ruth careers.
“I couldn’t be prouder of how they performed,” Piccirillo said. “It’s always difficult to come through the loser’s bracket and they came to play every game. They ended up just a hair short but they had a very good tournament.