PAL headed back to regionals

Posted 7/20/23

For the third time in as many years, the Warwick Pal Babe Ruth baseball team captured the state championship to punch its ticket to the upcoming regional tournament in Massachusetts.

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PAL headed back to regionals


For the third time in as many years, the Warwick Pal Babe Ruth baseball team captured the state championship to punch its ticket to the upcoming regional tournament in Massachusetts.

The PAL 15-U club features nearly the entire same roster that has now reached the regional tournament for three straight years, and this time around, the seasoned bunch is confident that is has a chance to take it all.

“They have high expectations for themselves, appropriately high ambitions. They hold themselves accountable and pick each other up. They always seem to get out early to a lead and quickly come back if they fall behind. We had respect for North Providence and the kids did too, but they had confidence,” said PAL coach Mike Mullane.

“We went in knowing that we were the better team and we had to stay confident. It was just about making the plays in the field. We have the pitching, so we just wanted to get on top early. We tried to score runs and put the pressure on them,” added second baseman Michael Bryson of the state finals.

PAL topped North Providence in back to back games to clinch the win. PAL took Game 1 by a score of 10-6 on the back of starting pitcher Derrick Butler, who finished allowing just one hit and no earned runs across four innings of work. The PAL defense, which was led by Carter Robbins, Bryson and Michael Mainelli, was also sharp in an error-free performance.

“It was a good experience, it was a lot of fun. I just saw that they couldn’t really catch up to the fastball so I kept using that and it worked,” said Butler of his outing on the mound.

Robbins went 2-for-4 at the plate including a two-run single that put PAL up 7-6, as well as a sacrifice bunt in the sixth that helped the club mount the 10-6 advantage. Dom Berry also knocked in a run in the win.

PAL went on to take Game 2 the following day, 8-6. Aiden Clancy was strong on the mound, pitching five innings and allowing just one hit while striking out six batters. Bryson came on in relief to secure the save.

Clancey, Bryson, Mainelli and Jackson Monte all knocked in runs to pace the offense. 

With many of the players having competed alongside one another for multiple seasons, they have formed a strong chemistry that has carried over on the field, according to PAL manager Tom McMullen.

“One thing about this team that makes me happy is how close they are. They are very resilient, they persevere when challenges come their way. They don’t fear anyone, they go out there to battle and they go out there to win,” said McMullen.

Although the team has yet to win the regional tournament, the players feel that they have learned from their past losses and are prepared to play their best baseball yet.

“You never know how these out of state kids are going to play, how they’re going to pitch, how big they’ll be. Going late in games it’s about making plays and not making errors. The first year we went, it was the errors that killed us. If we can clean those up then we’ll be good to go,” said Bryson.

McMullen feels that the club is peaking at the right time and is well-rounded.

“We’re going to go about it the same way. We have intangibles, we have speed, pitching, sound defense. We’re going to try to take advantage of the other team’s mistakes,” said McMullen.

Ten of the players on the team will be competing with Pilgrim next spring, so although most of them will stay in touch, this will be their final trip at the Babe Ruth level.

Butler hopes to end his Babe Ruth career on top.

“It’s so much fun playing with these guys. We’ve made a great bond over the past few years. We’re going to win it all,” said Butler.

The team is also playing with a special purpose as it has dedicated its season to former coach Billy Piccirillo, who was the manager during its 13-U season. Piccirillo passed away after that season, but the players and coaches still feel his presence each day and will be thinking of him at regionals.

“We’ve taken on that leadership that he provided and we’ve dedicated this run to him,” said McMullen. “When we run out there, he’s with us, he’s our inspiration. He’ll be right there and I’m sure he’ll be smiling.”

PAL, regionals, baseball


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