Warwick West Side Little League has hosted the Red Andrews Tournament for many years, but the league always watched someone else leave with the trophy.
This year, West Side kept it right at home.
With an 8-5 victory over Warwick Continental on Saturday night, West Side captured its first championship in the 27-year history of the Red Andrews Tournament.
“It means a lot,” said manager Derek Moreau. “We talked to these guys about it before the tournament started, about how we had never won it. Their thing was, ‘We want to win it.’ I told them about the team a couple of years ago that finished second. I said, ‘We went to the game, but we didn’t win it.’ They just set the goal that they wanted to win it.”
West Side had two entries in the tournament and both won their first games. But the West Side 1 squad beat its league rival on Thursday for a spot in the championship.
The win set up a meeting with Continental, who has won seven Red Andrews championships, more than any other Warwick league. Wickford, with eight, has won the most overall.
But the tough competition from Continental didn’t slow West Side down. West Side starter William Martino worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the first inning, finishing it off with a strikeout.
West Side then put its own chance together in the bottom of the first and didn’t let it go to waste. Jeff Alves and Nick Jaggi led off with walks. Continental starter Jared Favino got the next two batters, but Branden Bento’s groundout did bring a run home.
And West Side didn’t stop there.
Russ White hit a hard ground ball to shortstop that was mis-played, allowing another run to score. Martino then walked and Will Pariseau reached on an infield hit to load the bases. Jake White worked a walk to bring in a third run, and Matt Perreault was hit by a pitch to force in another.
“We wanted to get the bats going a little more,” Moreau said. “But it was good to get the runs.”
Continental reliever Matt DePari got out of the first-inning jam and held West Side down over the next two innings. The lefty ended up striking out nine in 4.1 innings of work.
Meanwhile, though, Martino continued to keep Continental’s bats quiet, especially when it counted the most. Anthony Calise walked to start the second, and Robert Nolette singled. After Martino got a strikeout, Gavin Hames walked to load the bases for a second straight inning.
But again, Martino was up to the task. The left-hander struck out the next batter on three pitches before inducing a ground ball to second. Isaiah Rosa handled it and threw to Bento at first for the third out.
Over the next two innings, Martino cruised, retiring the next six in order.
He also had strong defense behind him. Alves made a good play at shortstop and Will Pariseau hauled in a tough fly ball in right in the third inning. In the fourth, Bento scooped a ground ball at first and stepped on the bag for the third out.
“We just kept telling them, ‘Stay composed, stay within yourselves. Don’t give up until the last out,’” Moreau said. “They showed that tonight.”
The concern for West Side was that the 4-0 lead wasn’t big enough, not with Continental’s big hitters.
West Side took care of those concerns in the fourth.
Pariseau started the inning by legging out an infield hit. Jake White followed with a walk, before Continental recorded the first out thanks to a diving catch on a pop-up by Calise.
But West Side kept coming. Jordan Hudson beat out an infield hit to load the bases. After DePari recorded a strikeout, Rosa smashed a line drive to the gap in left-center field. Pariseau, White and Hudson raced home, and Rosa just kept running. He crossed the plate with an inside-the-park grand slam.
“Isaiah’s hit was huge,” Moreau said. “We were up 4-0, but this team was not going to quit. They’re a great team. They come to play, every tournament, every game they play. We kept saying, ‘We need more.’ Isaiah came through for us.”
And sure enough, West Side did need those runs.
Calise led off the fifth with a walk and Nolette followed with his second base hit of the night. An error on a ground ball by DePari allowed Continental’s first run to score.
Hames then hit a sharp ground ball to first, where Russ White snagged it, stepped on first and threw to second. DePari was initially called out there, but because it wasn’t a force-out, the call was reversed, leaving Continental with runners on second and third.
Bobby DeCorpo kept the rally going for Continental when he lined a single into right to score two, making it an 8-3 game. Martino fielded a bunt from Jack McMahon and fired to first for the second out, but then hit John Cardi with a pitch to put two men on again.
That chased Martino, and West side brought in Jaggi. Continental’s Hunter McMullen greeted him by smoking a line drive down the right-field line to score two more runs.
The good news for West Side was that Continental would get no more in that inning. Hudson tracked down McMullen’s hit in right field and fired a throw to the cut-off man Rosa. Rosa then threw to third to nail McMullen, who was trying to stretch the double into a triple.
Now leading 8-5, West Side went down in order in the bottom of the fifth as DePari struck out the side, but Jaggi made sure Continental couldn’t rally again. After a giving up a leadoff single to Aiden Estrella, Jaggi induced a ground ball and West Side forced Estrella out at second. Steven Costantino then grounded out to first.
With two outs and the West Side fans on their feet, Jaggi sealed the deal with a strikeout.
“I told Nick in the fourth inning to get ready,” Moreau said. “He came in and did what he had to do.”
And the celebration was on. The West Side players received hats and then the championship trophy. They took a lap with it, and for the first time, they brought it right to home plate.
“Finally,” Moreau said. “We hear it from the president all the time, ‘When are you going to win the thing?’ We finally did it. I’m very proud of the kids, proud of the coaches and the parents for supporting. Everyone did a great job.”