PAL 15s plate 29 runs in rout of West Warwick
After dropping its opener to Aquidneck Island on Saturday, the Warwick PAL 15-year-old all-star team bounced back in the biggest way possible on Sunday afternoon at War Memorial Field in Middletown, rolling past West Warwick, 29-1, to stave off elimination in state tournament play.
Cam Armenti (6 RBIs), Andrew Merryfield (5 RBIs) and Connor Tainsh (4 RBIs) led the way offensively for PAL, and Derek Lallo and Tainsh combined for a five-inning no-hitter on the mound to help Warwick advance.
“We needed this bounce back,” PAL manager Jeff Howe said following the win. “[Saturday] we just didn’t hit. I think it was the nerves and everyone playing the first game. But, today they bounced back, played as a team and showed what they can do.”
Nick Zabawar and Merryfield each recorded RBI hits in the first and second innings, respectively, to give Warwick a 2-0 lead at the end of two frames.
PAL then put the game away with an offensive outburst of 13 runs in the third inning, highlighted by a pair of two-run home runs from Tainsh and Thomas Mullane.
Merryfield and Tyler Parks also produced bases-clearing hits in the inning, while Nathan Miller added an RBI base knock, Brett Babcock drew a bases-loaded walk and Armenti muscled a pitch deep enough into the outfield for a sacrifice fly.
Warwick added three more runs in the top of the fourth inning on a two-RBI single off the bat of Tainsh, with the other run scoring on an error, pushing the already insurmountable lead to 18-0.
PAL’s offense wouldn’t slow down in the fifth frame either. Armenti highlighted Warwick’s 11-run fifth when he turned on an inside pitch and blasted a grand slam over the fence in right field. Tyler Brunelle, Jack Howe, Babcock, Merryfield and Zabawar also had RBI hits in the inning.
Warwick’s pitching was somewhat overshadowed by the 29 runs that the offense produced, but Lallo and Tainsh were flawless on the bump, with Tainsh yielding an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth.
Lallo was particularly impressive, even with the lengthy wait periods between half innings. He would go three innings, striking out six while throwing just 41 pitches.
“Derek did a great job out there, and we were able to pull him out because we had the lead so early,” Howe said. “We have him available for the next game if we need him, and we actually have all of our pitchers available. We’re very confident due to our pitching staff. We have Tyler Parks, we have Derek, we have Nathan Miller, we have a bunch of people that can come in – we had Connor come in and close it out for us today, and he did a great job.”
Warwick will need as much quality pitching as possible if it wants to make a run at a third consecutive state title, as it will need to win four more games in a row without losing to capture the championship.
The road won’t be easy, with Warwick potentially having to beat Aquidneck twice in the title round, but the back-to-back champs are certainly capable of doing that.
“We’re looking at it as a one-game tournament every time we take the field,” Howe said of his team’s mindset after already enduring one loss. “They know they can beat anyone in the tournament, they have that much talent.”
Warwick will be back in action tonight when it takes on Coventry at War Memorial Field at 5:30 p.m. in another elimination game.