PAL 14's win first two at states, move into winners' bracket final
The Warwick 14-year-old Babe Ruth all-star team has no complaints about how things have gone thus far in the state tournament, and its hard to blame the Warwick stars.
They’ve been firing on all cylinders.
Warwick held off a tough North Providence team 8-7 on Saturday, putting it in the winner’s bracket semifinals on Monday against Newport/Middletown.
And Warwick cruised, beating Newport 8-2 to reach the winner’s bracket final against Cranston.
That game was scheduled for Wednesday, with the results unavailable at press time.
“Everybody is confident,” Warwick manager Mike Giard said. “We played well on Saturday night, then Monday night against Newport. The kids’ confidence is flying.”
While the game against North Providence went down to the wire, Monday’s showdown with Newport was far less dramatic.
Giard elected to pitch Marc Andrews, a first-time all-star who was not on the team last year as a 13-year-old.
But Andrews rose to the occasion, throwing five innings while giving up just one run and walking one batter.
“I started Mark knowing that all he does is throw strikes,” Giard said. “He doesn’t throw the ball too hard, but he’s a tall lefty who keeps guys off balance.”
Andrews pitched to contact, which was a perfect recipe for Warwick, as it played solid defense all night long.
That defense set the tone right from the start.
“They came out hitting him but we made some great plays in the field in the first inning, which held them to zero runs,” Giard said.
The offense started off hot as well, grabbing a run in the bottom of the first when Austin Lamaire knocked in Eric Edwards with a single.
In the second inning, Warwick made it 2-0 when another run came home on a passed ball, and it added to the lead later in the frame.
Lamaire came up to bat with two outs and runners on second and third, and he laced a double into the left-centerfield gap to plate both runners and give Warwick a 4-0 advantage.
Warwick’s offense was a good combination of solid hits, patience at the plate and Newport errors.
Newport struggled defensively, and also walked eight batters. But Warwick wasn’t going to complain about getting a little help from its opponent.
“We hit consistently, but they made a bunch of mistakes, too.” Giard said. “They made some errors and we capitalized on them throwing the ball around a little bit. They’re pitchers struggled with walking guys.”
From there on out, the game wasn’t in very much doubt. Warwick added four more runs, pushing individual runs across to pad its lead while continuing to excel defensively.
“Defensively, we just played excellent,” Giard said.
On the mound, Andrews made it hold up before he was pulled for Avery Ingegneri in the sixth inning.
Ingegneri picked up right where Andrews left off, giving up just one run over the final two innings to keep Warwick comfortably ahead and finish the game.
Andrews and Ingegneri are the team’s No. 3 and 4 pitchers, and using them allowed Giard to save Lamaire and Shane Kittila for Wednesday’s game.
“I went with my three and four in this game and they went excellent,” Giard said on Wednesday. “They gave us the innings that we needed to get us to tonight.”
Warwick’s next challenge is Cranston, the team that won the state championship last year as 13-year-olds.
In what has traditionally been a big rivalry between the two towns, Giard was expecting nothing less than a well-played, intense game on Wednesday night.
“It will be a battle,” Giard said. “We’re excited for the challenge.”
The winner of the Warwick-Cranston game will play on Friday, while the loser will be back in action today at 6:30 p.m.
All games are played at Cranston Stadium.