Losing a game early in the district tournament makes the road to the top a whole lot longer, as coming up from the loser’s bracket is no small task.
The Warwick West Side 12-year-old all-star team isn’t quite back near the top of the heap in District 3 just yet, but West Side is steadily moving along and playing like a team that hopes to continue summer baseball for as long as it can.
On Tuesday, West Side won its second consecutive game in dominating fashion. Behind 5.1 solid innings on the mound from Will Martino and an offense that scored eight runs in the first two innings, West Side eliminated South Kingstown National with a 9-2 victory.
After losing its first game of the tournament to Coventry American last Saturday, West Side knocked off Warwick Continental on Sunday, before following that up with the win over South Kingstown.
In a tournament that started with 14 teams, only eight remain, and West Side – the only Warwick team left standing – is one of them.
“They’re very relaxed,” West Side manager Mike Pariseau said. “We lost on Saturday – and I thought we played well on Saturday – but that didn’t get them down at all.
They just realized that we still have an opportunity do some things, and we just kept going.”
West Side came out like a team on a mission on Tuesday.
Martino surrendered just three hits over the first three innings, striking out one batter and letting his defense do the rest.
And his offense gave him plenty of support. West Side scored three in the first and five in the second to take a quick 8-0 lead.
Mike Hampson led off the game with a single, and two batters later Dan Cavanagh singled before Blake Roberge knocked in the first run with a double to right-center. After South Kingstown pitcher Jason Fera got the second out of the inning on a strikeout with the bases loaded, West Side came through. On the first pitch of his at-bat, Will Pariseau laced a single to right field, plating two runs for a 3-0 lead.
“It’s been great, the hitting has been fantastic for us,” Mike Pariseau said. “Everyone has come up in big spots.”
In the second, it was more of the same, especially with two outs.
Vincent Tinaro was hit by a pitch to start things off, and walks to Russ White and Cavanagh loaded the bases with one out. That drove Fera from the game, and South Kingstown brought in Kyle Hart.
On the second pitch that Hart threw, Roberge lined a single to right to plate West Side’s fourth run of the game.
Hart then got a strikeout for the inning’s second out, but West Side didn’t let him off the hook. Nick Jaggi singled to left to drive in a run, and a misplay by the left-fielder brought home another run. Adrian Pierce followed that with a single to center, which scored two more runs.
Hart did manage to get the next batter out, but the score was 8-0 after just two innings. Six of those runs came with two outs.
“Multiple times we got some two out hits to bring in runs,” Pariseau said. “It’s contributions from kids one through 12, which is nice.”
In the top of the third inning, the defense did its part to hold the lead. With two outs and a man on first, South Kingstown’s Thomas Whitford hit a blooper to center field, and Hampson made a diving effort for West Side. The ball glanced off his glove, but he regrouped and fired to Pierce, who fired to Cavanagh at home. The throw easily beat the runner, as Cavanagh put the tag down at the plate to retire the side.
“The team in general, I just thought we played solid baseball,” Pariseau said. “The balls that were hit to us, we made plays on. We had that nice play where we threw a guy out trying to score. We’re just not giving up extra outs, which I think makes a big difference.”
South Kingstown brought in the hard-throwing Whitford in the next inning, which slowed West’s Side bats for the last few innings, but Martino did enough on the mound to make it not matter.
He eventually surrendered two runs in the bottom of the sixth before being pulled for Jaggi – who got the final two outs – but it was a big-time performance nonetheless.
“I thought he did a great job,” Pariseau said. “He worked with a good count, he spotted pitches well and he kept South Kingstown off balance. He was scoreless up until the bottom of the sixth – I thought he did a great job.”
West Side’s ninth run came on an RBI single by Pierce in the bottom of the fourth.
Now West Side will try to keep going. Its next game is Sunday at 6:30 p.m. against Coventry National at Coventry’s Paine Field.
Coventry National has also won two games and lost one so far, beating Warwick National and North Kingstown, while losing to Narragansett.
From here on out, every game will be an elimination game. West Side is enjoying the ride.
“It’s a great bunch of kids to work with,” Pariseau said. “We’ve been around with most of them for two or three years, playing majors at West Side and the all-star teams. They’re very coachable. They get along with each other well and really, they’re just having a good time with it.”