Austin Wheeler and Apponaug’s East Greenwich Car Wash earned sweet revenge on Warwick Continental American on Tuesday night, blanking Sheridan Electric 2-0 in the majors 2019 City Series Championship game.
Mayor Joseph Soloman threw out the first pitch, and then it evolved into a pitcher’s duel.
Wheeler tossed a complete-game shutout for Apponaug and earned the win while striking out five. Wheeler also scored the only two runs of the game.
“It’s a special game,” EG Car Wash manager Brad French said. “There’s no doubt about it. And that’s one special pitcher right there. He has been a solid rock for us all season long. And for him to come out and just continue to do what he knows how to do. He threw lights out. It was more special than I’ve been around in a long time. It was that kind of a day for him. And he was in the zone. Everybody saw it and he knew it. And for him to finish out the game the way he did, it was quite special and in chilling fashion.”
Postgame, Wheeler was humble as he celebrated the triumph with family, teammates and coaches.
“It feels great,” Wheeler said. “It was a whole team effort. We all did well.”
Mason Broomfield started on the bump for WCA and took the loss, hurling five innings and fanning eight, and Joey Riviera led the Sheridan Electric offense with a double and a single.
EG Car Wash looked like a totally different team than two nights prior when it fell 15-1 to Sheridan Electric. But then again, Apponaug might have held back a bit.
“When we got demolished, we really weren’t thinking about winning,” Wheeler explained. “It was just like a game that didn’t really matter. We didn’t put our best pitchers in there. So, it wasn’t really a real game to us.”
While French didn’t say Sunday’s game was meaningless, he knew his team would come out stronger in the final.
“Last game, we came out, we were very dry, and it was tough,” French added. “But I told you it was going to be a different ball game this time. And for Austin to come out and do what he did. I’m not so sure you can kind of understand those unless you’ve played baseball and being in the zone like that, it’s quite a feeling, and for him to have that at such a young age, I’m extremely happy for him.”
“I’m proud of him and he helped bring this championship home to Apponaug,” French continued. “So, for that, I’m grateful to him.”
Apponaug’s first run came in the top of the fourth, after Wheeler worked a lead-off walk, and then went to third when WCA catcher Ben Diaz tried to pick him off, but instead threw the ball high over the glove of the first baseman, AJ Bonang and into right field.
The second run followed in the sixth after Wheeler, who hit a one-out single, stole second, and then took third on a passed ball. Wheeler would score when Drew Agostinelli grounded out down the first baseline for the second out.
Scoring with Wheeler is nothing new for Apponaug, as French feels his team is in a good spot whenever the speedster reaches base.
“We just need him to get on,” French said. “As soon as he gets on first, we know that we can get him around to third, and then on a hit or a passed ball, he’s got the wheels to go home.”
“His last name is Wheeler and if you noticed during the game everybody was calling him ‘wheels’ because that’s kind of his nickname,” French explained. “So, we just need him to get on. He’s got those short, choppy feet, and then he just barrels through the bases. And he scored both runs for us. So, for him to do all that in one game, it’s quite an accomplishment and pretty special.”
While WCA manager Jamie Luisi was upset with the outcome, he gave credit to EG Car Wash and its ace pitcher.
“It was definitely a good pitching matchup,” Luisi said. “Obviously, we made a few mistakes, the throw down to first, and Austin Wheeler got to third. But Austin Wheeler was lights out. The kid was phenomenal. He had that curve ball working and he had them off balance the whole game. Austin Wheeler pitched great and they played good D and they came to win. And they just played better than us.”
It marks the second straight season that WCA came up shy in the City Series.
“I’m not going to make any excuses on why we lost,” Luisi said. “My team had a great season. The boys played well, back-to-back championships. They’re a great group of kids and they come to play baseball. They love playing baseball and I love coaching them and I’m looking forward to next season.”