Seven innings weren’t enough for the Warwick PAL 13-year-old all-stars to take on its Coventry counterparts at North Providence High School on Sunday night.
In some ways, Warwick was lucky to have an eighth inning to state its case following a bottom of the seventh in which it couldn’t close out Coventry despite entering with a 3-1 lead. While Warwick lived to see another inning, the miscues of the seventh proved costly once Coventry’s Jacob Ward smacked a two-out single to right to walk off with a 4-3 win.
“We had it, and we just let it get away a little,” Warwick manager Bill Piccirillo said after the game. “We have to come back and get it back again.”
Matt Durkin gave Coventry a 1-0 lead on a wild pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning, which seemed like it could have stood up in the well-pitched contest.
But, Warwick’s offense finally shined through in the sixth, in which Brendan McCaffrey led things off with a walk. Chris Manzo wore a pitch on his torso to give Warwick two runners on with none out, setting the stage for Cam Nadeau. The cleanup hitter laced a pitch down the line in right field for a double, scoring both McCaffrey and Manzo for Warwick’s first lead of the night.
Nadeau came around to score on a wild pitch, stretching the Warwick lead to 3-1.
But Ward, who was pitching at the time for Coventry, settled down quite nicely by inducing three straight groundouts to get out of the frame without any further damage. Zach Scotti – who singled after Nadeau – was stranded at third base, one of six Warwick runners to be left on base in scoring position over the course of the game.
“We need to play a little better than we did tonight,” Piccirillo said.
McCaffrey became the sixth and final runner to be left in scoring position in the top of the seventh, getting stuck at third base after a two-out single to go along with a steal of second and advancement to third on a wild pitch.
Nolan Sion led off the bottom of the seventh with a single for Coventry, later taking second on a passed ball. Ward reached on catcher’s interference, giving Coventry two men on with no outs. Alex Santilli reached on a fielder’s choice, in which the lead runner (Sion) was out at third, but everyone was safe after a miscommunication on Matt Langolis’ bunt.
Ward would score on a balk to cut Warwick’s lead to 3-2, and Santilli came around to tie the game on a throwing error.
Pitcher Anthony Blade buckled down to get Mike DiPaolo to ground out to third, sending the game on to extras.
Warwick went quietly in the top of the eighth, with Devin Farrell reaching on an error with two outs, but not advancing any further than first base.
Durkin led off the bottom of the eighth with a walk and stole second, putting the winning run in scoring position for Coventry. Blade retired the next two hitters – during which time Durkin advanced to third. Piccirillo opted to intentionally walk Sion, giving Warwick a chance at a force play at both first and second base, but it was all for naught.
Dylan Bourret made a valiant effort to track down Ward’s hit, sprawling out with full extension of his glove arm, but was a split second late. The ball fell safely to the grass in right field, giving Coventry the 4-3 win.
“Our team fought hard, that’s what makes this team this team here,” Coventry manager Matt Langlois said. “That team’s great, we fully expect to see them again later on. We’re going to look to continue this and capitalize.”