The Warwick Continental American District All-Stars won the 9-10 year-old District 3 Little League Championship on Sunday afternoon, beating North Kingstown/Wickford 9-3 in Game 2 of the title series at Ed Cooney Field in Wilson Park.
North Kingstown/Wickford won the losers bracket final on Thursday against Coventry before beating Warwick 9-3 in Game 1 of the championship series on Saturday. NK/Wickford got a strong game from its starting pitcher Jack Diano in that contest, striking out five hitters over 5 2/3 innings.
That Game 1 victory for NK/Wickford came five days after Warwick shut them out by a score of 9-0 in the winners’ bracket semifinal round.
Nonetheless, Warwick would only need to beat NK/Wickford one time and the boys was able to get it done in the second game and manager Jamie Luisi couldn’t have been more pleased with the final outcome.
“So excited,” Luisi said. “Just the way they played today; the defense was totally different. The pitching was good today. Ethan (Luisi) came in, closed it, and Nick Stevens started and pitched a hell of a game. These boys have just played hard, played the way we should have played. If we played like that yesterday, we probably win.”
The manager told his team to forget about the Game 1 loss and to just come out and play their game.
“Yesterday is over with and today is a new day,” Luisi said. “Today is a new day and let’s go out and play like we play. Have fun and play baseball. Go do your job. That’s it. They were all zoned in today.”
Ethan Luisi, the shortstop and son of Jamie, did his best to forget about the loss and a day later he was ecstatic to be a champion.
“I felt like after that game just let it go and now I just wanted to win this one and be the District Champions,” Ethan said.
With the win, Warwick moves on to play for the state championship and Ethan feels confident that Warwick can gain that title as well.
“I feel pretty good about it and I’m hoping we can win that too,” Ethan said. “One game at a time.”
Nick Stevens got the call to start on the bump for Warwick in Game 2 and he did not disappoint, finishing with the win while recording three strikeouts over five innings. The offense was led by Brayden Fagundes, who had a hit with three runs batted in, and Joey Rivera, who had three hits and two RBI.
Warwick got on the board in the bottom of the second when with a runner at first base, Gabe Politelli launched a shot to center field and on the throw to the cutoff man an error occurred, which allowed Rivera to come home and gave Warwick the early 1-0 lead. Then with Politelli at third, NK/Wickford catcher Gabe Saballa overthrew the pitcher on a return throw to the mound which allowed Politelli to score and put Warwick up 2-0.
However, NK/Wickford knotted the game at 2 in the top of the third when Ethan Schmitt scored from third during a passed ball and then Diano followed it with an RBI single to drive in Brandon Venditto.
In the bottom of the inning, with one out and runners at the corners, Fagundes grounded into a fielder’s choice out but drove in Ethan Luisi from third and gave Warwick a 3-2 edge. Rivera then sprinkled an RBI single into shallow left and knocked in Fagundes while increasing the Warwick advantage to 4-2.
NK/Wickford got a run back in the top of the fourth when Jacob Hamilton scored during a passed ball and pulled his team within one at 4-3.
Warwick would put the game out of reach in the bottom of the fourth.
With one out and runners at second and third, Ethan Luisi rocketed a shot at the shortstop, who then threw to home. The catcher dropped the ball to allow the Tiernan Leahy to score, making it 5-3. Next with the bases loaded, Fagundes blasted a two-run single to right field and drove in both Korbin Anderson and Ethan Luisi, while upping the Warwick cushion to 7-3. Then with two outs, Rivera hammered an RBI single to right field and drove home Mason Broomfield and then, Fagundes trotted home behind him after an error on the throw in to the cutoff man and that ballooned Warwick’s lead 9-3.
After winning it all, Broomfield, the ace of Warwick’s pitching staff, who got the start in Game 1, was flying high.
“I feel great,” Broomfield said. “I know I did my best and I couldn’t do better. I tried my best in every game.”
Anderson, Broomfield’s battery mate for much of the season, was content with his own performance in the biggest game of the season.
“I feel like I did pretty well,” Anderson said. “I mean, I got some passed balls, but I had to let those go and just keep moving on with that.”
The State Tournament begins on July 22, with opening ceremonies starting at 2:30 p.m. at Hien Field in Lincoln.
Luisi, the manager, is full of determination as the team moves on.
“Very confident,” Luisi said. “I believe in these boys. They haven’t quit on me, I haven’t quit on them and I believe in them. A great group of kids.”
The assistant coaches on the staff that have helped Warwick bring home the banner are Derek Leahy and Patrick Politelli.