Donelan’s won the major division championship at Warwick West Side by thriving in tough situations. On a bigger stage Friday night, Donelan’s was up to its old tricks.
Warwick National’s Coastway Community Bank took a 5-2 lead on Donelan’s in Friday’s City Series championship game. Playing on its home field and with everything clicking, Coastway seemed poised to cruise to the title.
Instead, Donelan’s rallied for two runs in the fourth, two in the fifth and one in the sixth then held off a last-gasp push from Coastway to capture the Warwick title with an 8-7 victory.
“The good thing about this team is that they’ve been in close battles all year,” said Donelan’s manager Tom McMullen. “This wasn’t anything new to us. We’ve been resilient all year, we’ve bounced back. The kids don’t panic. They’ve never given up and they’ve been in battles like this before. Perseverance and resiliency is what they’re all about.”
Donelan’s actually scored first, getting a two-run homer in the top of the first from Blake Roberge. But Coastway starter Jacob Riess settled in from there, and in the meantime, the Coastway bats took over.
Shawn Holland led off the bottom of the first with a double, and Evan O’Connor followed with a single. A sacrifice fly by Sean Blanchard brought a run home, before Tyler Balutowski plated O’Connor with a double. A single by Riess scored Balutowski to make it 3-2.
Coastway then added two more runs in the second, when O’Connor walked and Blanchard roped a line drive up the middle. A string of aggressive base-running plays by Coastway and bad throws by Donelan’s allowed both O’Connor and Blanchard to come all the way around for the 5-2 lead.
On the mound for Coastway, Riess worked a scoreless third. Slowly but surely, though, Donelan’s started to turn the tide.
Roberge worked around two walks to pitch a scoreless third, before the offense came back to life in the fourth. Three straight walks to Roberge, Andrew Fredericks and Bobby Rodriguez loaded the bases. Roberge scored on an error before Fredericks raced home when Coastway turned a 6-3 double play.
Roberge followed with another scoreless frame in the fourth, setting the stage for the comeback to continue.
With one out in the fifth, Anthony Witherstone legged out an infield hit and Tommy McMullen lined a base hit into right before stealing second. Roberge then battled through a 10-pitch at-bat before hitting a sharp ground ball to third. A throwing error on the play allowed both Witherstone and McMullen to score, putting Donelan’s ahead 6-5.
Armed with the lead, Roberge kept momentum firmly on his team’s side. He struck out the side in dominant fashion in the fifth.
“Blake was outstanding,” Tom McMullen said. “He’s been outstanding all year long as our No. 1 pitcher. He’s a kid that belongs on the mound. His composure is unbelievable. Even if you’re not making the plays behind him, he stays composed, he battles back and he gets stronger.”
Donelan’s added two more runs in the sixth. Kane Martinez singled, Isaiah Rosa walked and Witherstone knocked in both of them with a line drive single to right field.
Coastway still had one more at-bat, though, and would test Donelan’s resilience one more time.
Again, the West Side club was up to the task.
Holland led off the bottom of the sixth with a single, and O’Connor followed with a ground ball back to the mound. Roberge tried for an out at second but his throw was wild and everybody was safe. Roberge also reached his pitch count at that point.
Fredericks came on in relief and issued a walk to Blanchard. Balutowski followed with a hard ground ball to third, where Tommy McMullen made a great scoop and got an out at third. Holland scored on the play to make it 8-6.
Riess then hit a ground ball up the middle and Donelan’s got a force at second for out No. 2. Coastway stayed alive when Ryan Henson hit a ground ball to shortstop and the flip to second base was dropped. Blanchard scored on the play to get Coastway within one at 8-7.
Bur Fredericks induced another ground ball, this one to third base. McMullen made the play there and then won a furious race to third with the runner Riess for the final out of the game.
Donelan’s finally breathed easy.
“It’s been a team win all year long, and everybody has contributed,” Tom McMullen said. “That’s the beauty of this team and that’s why we are where we are.
The loss ended a great season for Coastway, who won the National league title and got together for one more run in the City Series. The squad also sent several players to National’s 12-year-old star team, which finished as the District 3 runner-up.
On Friday, though, it was Donelan’s who celebrated.
“From the beginning of March to the end here, these kids have really grown as a team,” McMullen said. “It was really an outstanding year for them, from the league to the playoff level right on through to the City Series. I’m really proud of these kids.”
Donelan’s team members are Witherstone, Roberge, Fredericks, Martinez, Rosa, Rodriguez, Ty Morgan, Tommy McMullen, Vincent Tinaro, Julian Rodas and Elias Fura.
Coastway’s team was made up of Holland, O’Connor, Blanchard, Balutowski, Riess, Henson, Ryan Conley, Chris Johnson, Jeff Berard, Will Morrisette and Jake Resendes.