The Warwick National 12-year-old all-stars entered the summer hoping to put together a run like their predecessors, who advanced to last year’s District 3 championship game.
Instead, a tough draw sent this year’s National stars to an early exit. National lost 8-4 to Coventry National in its tournament opener on Saturday then hit the road for Westerly on Sunday and lost 10-0.
“We thought we had a good team, but we caught up with some teams that were that much better than us,” said manager Wayne Holland. “It’s an unfortunate ending for the 12-year-olds this year.”
National had a home game in its opener but welcomed in Coventry National, a tough first-round opponent. Teams from Coventry have won the last four District 3 championships.
National was never out of the game but four runs wasn’t enough to keep up.
“They were a pretty good team,” Holland said. “They had one kid who just kept it low and outside and we just couldn’t hit it.”
The loss put National into an elimination game against Westerly, who had lost 10-1 to Narragansett in its opener.
But Westerly didn’t look like a team that lost 10-1.
Matt Brissette struck out nine in five innings, and the offense broke open a 5-0 game with five runs in the fifth, invoking the 10-run rule on a two-run home run by Harrison Chagnon.
“We just didn’t hit,” Holland said. “Both games we played, we didn’t hit and we made too many errors.”
National got a two-out single from Jake Resendes in the top of the first on Sunday, but Brissette struck out the next batter to end the inning. Westerly threatened in the bottom half, but National seemed on the verge of getting out of a jam when Cameron Crabtree caught a line drive and doubled a runner off second. But Westerly broke through when Elliott Greenberg, who had taken third on an error, raced home on a wild pitch.
It was more of the same in the second.
National’s Ryan Conley reached base on an error but Brissette struck out two more. In the bottom of the inning, Westerly tacked on another run when Drew Donnelly singled home Brissette.
Westerly then took control with a three-run third inning, highlighted by a Cole Riley two-run homer.
From there, National had a hard time getting back into the game. Ryan Henson and Jake Reiss had singles in the fourth but Brissette stranded them. In the fifth, Jeff Berard legged out a bunt single and Shawn Holland reached on a fielder’s choice, but nothing else materialized.
Brissette ended up allowing four hits to go with the nine strikeouts.
“He was throwing strikes and they were making the plays,” Wayne Holland said. “We weren’t hitting the ball in the gap and he struck out quite a few.”
In the bottom of the fifth, Westerly put the game away. Brissette and Donnelly had RBI singles before an error allowed Peter Fusaro to score. With a runner on third, Chagnon ended the game with a blast to left-center.
The home run ended the tournament for the National stars, but they focused on the positives.
“Fun group of kids,” Holland said. “They stayed up as best as they could and they worked hard. They’ll move on to the big field and play with each other again.”