The Warwick PAL Junior American Legion team saw its summer come to a close over the weekend at the Northeast Regional in Manchester, N.H., but the Rhode Island state runners-up didn’t go down without a fight.
Warwick lost its opening game to Tolland, Conn., the state champions, 5-1 on Saturday, then nearly staved off elimination in a 6-5 defeat to Littleton, Mass., Post 249 on Sunday.
It wasn’t the long run that Warwick was hoping for, but the team left New Hampshire feeling like it represented itself and its state positively.
“We had a great season, not only in the junior legion season, but going up to regionals,” said manager Mike Martin. “I’m real proud of all the kids. I told them yesterday that they had nothing to hang their heads about. Overall, we played very well. It was good experience for us.”
In its opening game against Tolland, Matt Court got the ball on the mound for Warwick and was effective, but the defense committed a few early miscues and Tolland grabbed a lead it never relinquished.
“We made a couple of defensive mistakes,” Martin said. “We got behind early.”
Jordan Huntoon came on after the third inning and held Tolland scoreless the rest of the way, yet Warwick couldn’t make up much ground with the bats.
It scored one run in the fourth and had runners on base in the fifth and sixth innings, only to come up a little bit short each time.
“We couldn’t come up with the key hit to close the gap on them,” Martin said.
That loss dropped Warwick into an elimination game with Littleton, and again it feel behind early. Warwick led 2-0 after the top of the first, but trailed 3-2 when the frame was over.
Steven Foster started on the hill, but Littleton was able to push across six runs in the first two innings, giving it a 6-2 lead.
Warwick came back, though, grabbing three runs in the fifth inning to make it a one run game.
With Dylan Palmiotti pitching and keeping Littleton from adding to its lead, Warwick seemed poised to complete the comeback. But in the sixth inning, it had two runners picked off to kill a rally, and in the seventh it left runners on first and second.
That was disappointing, but it didn’t diminish what Warwick accomplished by getting to that point and how it battled against the top competition in the region.
“It was a good showing for us,” Martin said. “As far as I’m concerned, only eight teams out of about 100 in junior legion in the northeast get up here. I’m really proud of the kids.”
Huntoon and Foster each had two hits in both the games, while Sean Creamer and Steve Cabral also stood out offensively for Warwick.
“Other than a few miscues, we played very, very well,” Martin said.
Riverside Post 10, the Rhode Island state champion and the other representative from the state at the regional, won its first game before forfeiting its second game.
The championship game of the tournament was scheduled for Monday between Braintree, Mass., and Dover, Mass., with results unavailable at press time.
Warwick won’t be around for that, but it’s proud nonetheless.
“Overall, it was a good experience for us,” Martin said. “I don’t think a lot of the kids have gotten to the regionals before. Other than a few mistakes, we played very well.”
Team members on the Warwick PAL Junior Legion team are Jordan Huntoon, Anthony Russo, Steven Foster, Sean Creamer, David McMullen, Robert Garceau, Alec Bloomingburgh, Anthony Cardarelli, Steve Cabral, Devin Ramos, Dylan Palmiotti, Matt Court, Marcus Alexander and Dan Reph. The team is managed by Mike Martin, with coach Bob Creamer.