The 2014 Rhode Island 11-year-old state tournament continued this Sunday as the two winners from Saturday’s games, Warwick Continental and Cranston Western, faced off at Johnston Memorial Park.
The two district winning teams played an exciting game that ended in a 6-5 victory for Warwick Continental with a game-winning double hit by Aidan Warrener in the bottom of the sixth inning.
With the win Continental is now 2-0 in the double elimination tournament, while Cranston West drops to 1-1. Continental is one win away from claiming the state championship after earning runner-up honors a year ago as 10-year-olds.
Continental won its first game of the tournament 7-2 against Cumberland on Saturday.
The championship game is Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Continental will only have to win once to take the title, while it would have to lose twice to be eliminated.
“It’s nice knowing that we’re going to have to be beaten twice in order to lose this at this point,” said Continental manager Mike Gannon.
Western jumped out to a quick one-run lead in the top of the first inning when Jake Bender crushed a home run to right-center field. The lead was short lived for though, as Continental scored four runs in the bottom of the inning. Three of the runs came from Caden Haley’s home run that he lifted out to deep center field. Continental was able to add another run on a throwing error to second base that allowed Mason Provoyeur to score.
The score remained 4-1 until the top of the third when Caleb Harris doubled down the right field line for Western. After Bender flied out to center, Cameron Ademec doubled down the left field line, scoring the run.
Western continued its comeback in the fourth inning when Tommy Scorpio hit a groundball up the middle with the bases loaded. The only play the fielder could make was to second, which allowed another run to score from third. Harris added to the double he hit in the previous inning by launching another double that fell between left and center field and scored another run to tie the game. With runners on second and third and only one out, Continental pitcher Tyrell Bernal was able to stop the bleeding by striking out the next two batters.
“We’ve had a tendency to jump out to early leads and not finish, and today was kind of an example of that,” Gannon said. “We got four runs in the first inning and then we didn’t score again until the bottom of the sixth. We made it hard on our pitchers who did a good job keeping the score down.”
Western pitcher Harris settled down after the first inning, allowing only one walk through the next four innings, as momentum seemed to be shifting towards Western’s side.
In the top of the fifth, Western used three consecutive singles to load the bases with only one out. Tommy Harper hit a groundball right at the shortstop, who was able to make a clean throw home to get the force out as well as save a run. But Scorpio was up next and he again came through for his team with the bases loaded, as he hit an infield single that scored the go-ahead run.
Continental was still unable to get anything going offensively until the bottom of the sixth inning. Tyler Amore led off the half-inning with a single to center field. Provoyeur followed that up with a double deep down the left field line, putting the tying and potential go-ahead runners at second and third with no one out.
Western made a pitching change to bring in Nick Mason, who was able to strike out the first batter he faced in Jeremy Ashman. Warrener, who was up next, wasted no time and hit the first pitch he saw into right-center field that scored both runs and won the game for Continental.
“That’s baseball,” Gannon said. “You need to have good pitching and timely hitting and we were able to get that from our guys today.”
Western manager Wayne Jacques was proud of his team’s effort despite the loss. “
We played good, we just had the one bad inning that got us in the hole early,” Jacques said. “We play to win every game and the loss today is not going to change that going forward.”
Western will play in the loser’s bracket final today at 6:30 p.m., and would re-match against Continental with a win.