The Warwick West Side 12-year-old all-star team got its District 3 tournament hopes off on the right foot Thursday, riding a four-run first inning to top Warwick American 5-2 and jump into the winner’s bracket.
Playing Coventry National the next day, West Side got a taste of its own medicine. Coventry rolled to a seven-run top of the first inning and West Side couldn’t recover, falling 16-6.
The road is longer now, as West Side dropped into the loser’s bracket and was scheduled to play Warwick Continental on Monday in an elimination game, with the results unavailable at press time.
“It really wasn’t any mistakes, it was just a matter of we played Coventry and that team was hitting the ball where we weren’t,” said West Side manager Dave Gallagher. “Base hits, good hitting and that’s what we ran into.”
The first inning of Friday’s game didn’t help. While West Side was able to get a run back in the bottom of the first, it still trailed 7-1 at that point.
West Side didn’t give up, especially after a nine-hit performance in its first game showed what its offense could do, yet there was simply too much ground to make up.
“They kind of held their heads up,” Gallagher said. “They knew it was early in the game, and they knew they could make an attempt to make a difference in the deficit.”
The closest West Side got as the game progressed was 12-6, as Coventry continued to tack on runs before West Side’s Jake White launched a three-run home run.
Coventry scored four more times, however, putting the game away.
Aaron Rastella started the game on the mound for West Side, and he was followed by Matt Zubrycki, Ben Rindeikis and Thomas Mullane.
“I knew they were going to be a tough match-up,” Gallagher said. “I was certainly confident that we would be able to compete with them and perhaps even win. We were looking to win that game.”
Coventry National advanced to take on South Kingstown National in the winner’s bracket semifinals, which were also scheduled for Monday.
West Side will now have to win seven games in a row to capture the district. If it beats Continental, its next game will be on Wednesday against either East Greenwich or Narragansett.
“We’ve had practice since the loss, Saturday and Sunday,” Gallagher said. “We’re hoping that practice makes a difference and helps us for [Monday’s] game.”
While the Coventry loss was difficult, there were plenty of positives in the win over American, starting with White, who pitched 5.1 innings before being removed due to his pitch count.
White allowed two runs to score in the first inning, but settled in and gave up only one hit the rest of the way. He ended with eight strikeouts before Rastella came in and shut the door with strikeouts for the final two outs.
“He settled in,” Gallagher said on Thursday of White. “The first inning jitters, but once he worked those out he was able to get going. He looked great.”
The offense was paced by a four-run first. Ethan Laramee began the game with a walk, and Mullane followed with a single. A passed ball allowed Laramee to score before White knocked in Mullane with a single to left.
Two batters later, Rindeikis smacked a double to right-center, and Zubrycki plated him with a single to left. Max Caracuzzo singled next, and the fourth run came home on an error.
“We had confidence in the way our team could hit,” Gallagher said. “We’ve taken them to RBI. We’ve had batting practice here. We know what these kids can do. They can definitely hit.”
West Side’s fifth run came in the sixth when Collin Driscoll doubled, moved to third on a bunt single by Laramee and scored on a Mullane single.
White and Zubrycki led the offense with two hits each.
“They played a great game,” Gallagher said. “It’s the first time that most of these kids are playing together. It all came together as a team. We’ve been working for the last two weeks.”