The Warwick PAL 14-year-old all-star team really couldn’t have drawn it up any better on Sunday, as it opened the Babe Ruth state tournament with a convincing 7-2 victory over rival Cranston.
Warwick, which won the state tournament as 13-year-olds, played error-free defense, racked up 11 hits and got a complete-game effort from David DeFusco on the mound. It capitalized on Cranston mistakes, got ahead early and easily finished the job.
The game was postponed from Saturday, but when it was finally time to play, Warwick was ready.
“We worked hard for about a week and a half,” Warwick manager Bob Creamer said. “Everyone has been at practice, working hard. That was a great team effort. Timely hits, Dave DeFusco pitched a great game and he got some great defense behind him. You can’t ask for any more.”
Warwick came out of the gates hot, as Elijah Brown was hit by a Chris Manfredo fastball to open the game, and Jared Houle followed with a single. Sean Creamer and DeFusco both singled immediately, with DeFusco’s hit driving in the game’s first run. Three batters later, Anthony Russo singled in Houle to make it 2-0.
In the second, Brown reached on a single, moved to second on a walk by Creamer and scored on an infield error, making it 3-0. The early lead made life a whole lot easier.
“Sometimes I’m kind of happy when we’re the away team,” Bob Creamer said. “We come out, get some runs and it builds a little cushion for us to go out and be confident in the field, play good defense. That happened today.”
DeFusco made it hold up. He retired the first seven batters of the game, striking out three of them. He gave up a one-out single in the third to Manfredo and walked Justin Gist, but struck out Sam Hanley and Nick San Antonio to avoid any further trouble.
“He’s a tough guy to hit,” Creamer said. “When he’s on, he’s on. He’s got a great fastball, and he mixes it up with a little curveball and changeups. He gets the batters off their game. If he’s on his game, no one can really touch him.”
He set down the side in order in the fourth and fifth innings before running into a little trouble in the sixth. Hanley and Gist singled, and San Antonio doubled in a run. Two batters later, an RBI groundout by Martin Goldberg gave Cranston its second run. Houle made a strong play in the hole at shortstop on the next batter to get out of the inning.
But at that point, it wasn’t much of an issue. Warwick already had seven runs of its own.
It scored its fourth run in the fourth on an RBI single by DeFusco, and Ryan Viti singled in another run in that inning.
In the fifth, Warwick grabbed two more. Jordan Huntoon singled, Brown walked and Houle singled to load the bases. Sean Creamer knocked a single into center, scoring both Huntoon and Brown – who acrobatically slid headfirst past the catcher’s tag – for Warwick’s sixth and seventh runs.
“We don’t have a nine hitter,” Bob Creamer said. “We have 13 kids on this team, and they’re all great players. Any given day, any one of them could be our leader. That’s the way they are. I’m happy with every kid today.”
In the seventh, DeFusco induced two line-outs and a fly out to end the game.
Warwick’s next game was scheduled for Monday against Portsmouth, with the results unavailable at press time. Portsmouth beat Newport/Middletown 4-2 on Sunday.
The winner of that game will play Wednesday against North Providence/Smithfield, Coventry or West Warwick. The loser will play today.
“It’s only our first game,” Creamer said. “We can’t rest on our laurels. We’ve got a little way to go, and we’re going to do it.”
Warwick 13’s open with victory
Warwick PAL’s 13-year-old all-stars matched up with host West Warwick on Saturday morning but made themselves right at home in their first taste of Babe Ruth state tournament action. Warwick rallied from an early 1-0 deficit then responded after West Warwick tied the game in the late innings. The result was a 5-4 victory and a spot in the winner’s bracket semifinal. Warwick was scheduled to play Coventry on Monday, with results unavailable at press time.
“The kids are working hard,” manager Bob Denis said. “Coventry is probably our toughest challenge, but they’re ready.”
West Warwick took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of Saturday’s game, but Warwick responded with three in the second. After West Warwick came up with two runs to tie the game in the fourth, Warwick surged again.
Matt Woods singled in the sixth and came around with the go-ahead run on a base hit by Marcus Alexander. In the seventh, Zach D’Andrea doubled and scored on a single by Josh Morin.
“We were down 1-0 then we battled back,” Denis said. “West Warwick came back and tied it and we battled back again. I told the kids you’ve got three more innings and you’ve got to win two out of the three.”
Warwick starting pitcher Devin O’Rourke was solid in four innings of work. Reliever Kyle Denis worked a one-two-three fifth inning when West Warwick had some momentum and then slammed the door once his team got the lead.
One run scored in the bottom of the seventh, but Denis induced a pop-out to end the game.
“I’ve been telling the kids it’s all about winning the inning,” Bob Denis said. “Playing smart baseball, and winning the inning. We were able to do that.”
Warwick was in for a challenge on Monday. Many of Coventry’s players were on the Coventry American Little League team that won the 12-year-old state championship last year – and beat Warwick National along the way. The Coventry Babe Ruth squad knocked off perennial powerhouse Cranston in its opener on Saturday.
Whatever happens, Denis is confident in his team’s chances to have a good tournament.
“I think these kids can do some damage,” he said. “We’re not the big power-hitting team, but we’ll play smart and we’ll do the little things.”
Portsmouth and North Providence/Smithfield are the other teams who advanced in the winner’s bracket.
PAL 15’s go 1-1 in
The Warwick PAL 15-year-old all-stars opened Babe Ruth state tournament play with a dramatic victory, but the good times didn’t last for long.
After beating Coventry 4-3 in eight innings Saturday night at North Providence High School, Warwick hit the skids on Sunday and lost 10-0 to Newport/Middletown.
“We didn’t play well as a team,” said manager Billy Piccirillo. “Now we have to pull it back together.”
Warwick is scheduled to play a loser’s bracket game on Tuesday against the winner of Monday’s game between North Providence and West Warwick.
The tournament got off to a good start for the Warwick squad. Shane Kittila tossed five strong innings in a pitcher’s duel with Coventry, and the Warwick offense rallied from a 1-0 deficit to tie the game in the fifth.
After reliever Dan Reph pitched two scoreless frames for Warwick, Coventry broke through in the first extra inning, scoring two runs to go up 3-1.
Warwick came back again, though. After a run came home to make it 3-2, Steven Foster hit a walk-off, two-run single to give Warwick the comeback victory.
“It was an exciting game,” Piccirillo said. “The team didn’t give up, especially in the eighth. They came back strong. They showed a lot of character.”
Warwick found itself in need of a comeback on Sunday, too, when they fell behind Newport/Middletown 4-0 in the early going.
But this time, there was no comeback. Newport/Middletown blew the game open in the fifth inning and never looked back en route to the lopsided win.
“We were in the game until the fifth,” Piccirillo said. “Our defense fell apart on us.”
The PAL stars will now turn their attention to Tuesday’s elimination game. It’s scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at North Providence High School.
“We need to come out and play the way we played the first game,” Piccirillo said. “I think they can still win this thing if they come out and play up to their ability.”
Cranston and Newport/Middletown are meeting in the winner’s bracket final on Wednesday.