Bob Creamer might as well have been having a bad dream when his Warwick PAL 14-year-old Babe Ruth team’s New England title hopes ended in a heartbreaking loss on Monday.
“What’s that saying – déjà vu all over again? That’s the same team we played last year that we got eliminated against,” Creamer said. “Same scenario.”
Playing Manchester, N.H., in the semifinals of the New England Regional Tournament, Warwick battled the whole way only to lose 5-4 on a walk-off, sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh.
A year ago as 13-year-olds in the New England Regional, Warwick was trying to advance to the semifinals and needed a win over Manchester to do it. But, in the same fashion, it lost 5-4. The only difference is that that game ended on a suicide squeeze.
“We definitely could have won that game,” Creamer said. “It could have gone either way. Our kids were ready to play.”
Warwick held a 3-0 lead over Manchester on Monday after three innings, only to see it vanish thanks to some shoddy defense in the fourth inning. Manchester scored four times in that frame to take the lead.
Warwick came back in the fifth with a run of its own, and Elijah Brown – the team’s starter who pitched the entire game – kept it tied through the sixth.
In the seventh, Brown retired the first man before surrendering a triple, putting the winning run at third base.
“That’s the only triple we’ve given up in eight or 10 games,” Creamer said. “Timing was bad.”
The next batter up hit a sacrifice fly to left field, and just like that, the game was over. Manchester had eliminated Warwick again.
Manchester went on to claim the New England crown with a 6-5 victory over Waterford, Conn., in the finals the next day. It advances to the Babe Ruth World Series in Moses Lake, Wash.
Still, Warwick improved on its regional showing from last season, when it went 1-2 and didn’t qualify for the semifinal round. It won two games in this year’s tournament, and earned the No. 2 seed coming out of pool play.
Plus, the majority of the team will likely be back next year, as Warwick will try to make another run at reaching the Babe Ruth World Series, this time as 15-year-olds.
In the meantime, Warwick will reflect on what was another impressive summer, one in which it blew through the Rhode Island state tournament without a loss and then was a few plays away from being in the New England finals and perhaps advancing all the way to Washington.
“It’s bittersweet,” Creamer said. “The whole team was kind of depressed. But then they looked at it in the bigger picture. They made a god run. They made a real good run. We didn’t lose big. It could have been us in those finals just as easily as anyone else.”