The Warwick PAL 13-year-old all-star team opened the Babe Ruth state tournament with lopsided wins over the weekend, but in the winner’s bracket final Monday, it found itself in a much different type of game.
After winning its first two games by a combined 22 runs, Warwick ran into Cranston and lost 6-5. It wasn’t particularly pretty from a Warwick perspective and the defeat made its road to a state title significantly longer.
Warwick is now in the loser’s bracket and is scheduled to take on either Providence or North Providence Thursday at 7 p.m. at West Warwick’s McCarthy Field. With a win in that game, it would get another shot at Cranston and would have to beat Cranston twice to earn the championship.
“We didn’t play very well, but I know we have a good team and I know we have a much better team than we showed last night,” said Warwick manager Billy Piccirillo.
Warwick out-hit Cranston eight to two, but it committed six errors and issued six walks. At the plate, it struck out 11 times against Cranston starter Brad Thies.
There were just too many miscues to overcome.
“We’ve put ourselves in a bad hole,” Piccirillo said. “Now it’s up to us to dig it out and keep it going towards that championship.”
The game started out well enough, with Warwick taking a 3-0 lead in the first inning against Thies. But Cranston grabbed two runs in the second, one in the third and then took its first lead with three runs in the fourth.
Its three combined runs in the second and third came without the benefit of a hit. In the fourth, Warwick starter Nick Laramee issued two walks and then a double to Thies, which plated both runners. Thies later came around on a wild pitch.
“I still believe that we’re capable of winning this tournament, and I think the kids do too,” Piccirillo said.
Blake Roberge came on to pitch the final three innings for Warwick and settled things down, allowing no runs over that span.
Yet, the offense couldn’t quite come all the way back. Warwick grabbed two runs in the fifth to make it 6-5, but saw the potential tying run cut down at the plate in the sixth.
With two outs and Jeremiah Mullane on first, Laramee hit a double and Piccirillo send Mullane home. He was caught on a perfect relay, keeping Warwick down by a run.
That was Warwick’s last chance to score, as the side was retired in order in the seventh.
Mike Hampson led Warwick’s offense with two hits, two runs and an RBI.
If Warwick were to come back and play Cranston, that game would be Friday night at 7 p.m. With a win in that one, Warwick and Cranston would play a winner-take-all game Saturday.
That’s still the goal, and Piccirillo is holding out hope that it’s an attainable one. With all the mistakes his team made Tuesday, there’s the belief that if it cleans up the miscues it could get the job done.
“Even with the one loss, we need to win one game to get back to Cranston,” Piccirillo said. “At that point, I think we’d match-up very well with them the last two games.”