The Cranston National Budlong 11/12-year-old All Stars beat Warwick North, 4-1, to win the Softball State Tournament Monday night at the Bend Street Complex. Cranston, which was previously unbeaten in the double-elimination tournament, dropped the first game of the doubleheader, 6-3, but was able to punch a ticket to the regional tournament in Bristol, Connecticut, in the second game.
Warwick had already lost once in the bracket and would have needed to win both games to win the crown.
CNB’s Lyndsey Brandow and Warwick North’s Julia Krause started in the circle during both games. Since CNB was the top seed, it was the home team and would bat last.
After two scoreless innings in the first game, Warwick opened it up with five runs in the top of the third. Warwick’s Ryleigh Ruddock led off the inning with a walk. Then, Jenni Altieri, the second baseman, bunted successfully to put two runners on. Brandow was able to retire the next two hitters before she was penalized by the umpires for an illegal pitch, which by rule moved both runners up a base, which led to a run scoring from third and giving Warwick an early 1-0 edge.
“They called it illegal because I wasn’t giving the umpire and the batter enough time in-between pitches,” Lyndsey Brandow said.
The foul shook the CNB pitcher and it took her a while to get back on track.
“After that she didn’t feel very comfortable, so she had to make some adjustments and she tried to,” Cranston manager Keith Brandow said.
The pitcher admitted that the penalty got to her a little bit.
“I was kind of all messed up and not really concentrated and focused, but then my team started coming together and getting around,” Lyndsey Brandow said.
Still in the third inning, Sydney Suffoletto drove Altieri in with a single past the shortstop, extending Warwick’s lead to 2-0. Suffoletto moved into scoring position on a passed ball after that. Then, Vinessa Perenti launched a double over the head of the second baseman, giving Warwick runners at second and third. Back-to-back walks by Brandow gave Warwick another run, increasing its advantage to 3-0. The Cranston manager then elected to bring in Gabriella Cunha to pitch in relief. But, Olivia Bordeleau would blast a two-run double off of her to give Warwick a 5-0 lead.
CNB got on the board in the bottom of the third when Emily Iannuccilli scored from third during a passed ball. With one out in the bottom of the fourth, CNB added another run when Sophia Crudale laid down a sacrifice bunt to pull Cranston within 5-2. In the bottom of the fifth, it inched even closer when Samantha Healy earned an infield hit before Sydney Jaiswal drove her in with a single, making it 5-3.
In the top of the sixth, Warwick got a little more breathing room when Murphy scored from third during a passed ball to extend its edge to 6-3.
Krause stayed in the game to close it out in the bottom of the sixth. The hurler got Jade Zuena to pop up before walking the second hitter. Then, Krause got Crudale to ground out and Iannuccilli to pop up for the final out of the contest, forcing Cranston to play another game.
After both teams went scoreless during the first three innings of Game 2, CNB took control in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Iannuccilli hit a triple to left field. Next, Hailey Decosta drove her in with a sacrifice bunt to go up 1-0. Shortly after, Carissa Giarusso hit an RBI single and increased CNB’s lead to 2-0. After Krause walked the next hitter, she was replaced by Murphy, who inherited runners at first and second. The move didn’t pay off as Healy would launch a two-run triple to right to open up a 4-0 CNB lead.
In the top of the fifth, Warwick’s Olivia Bordeleau earned a one-out walk. Then, Alayna Medina used a sacrifice bunt to move her to second. Next, Altieri drove her in with an infield single to bring Warwick within 4-1.
With Warwick down to its final out of the tournament in the top of the sixth, Krause and Motta worked back-to-back singles. However, Brandow was able to strike out Bordeleau to end the game and give Cranston the banner.
“I’m feeling great,” Keith Brandow said. “It was amazing. It was great. We had to battle this whole night through. This Warwick North team did a very good job today and they had us on the ropes. I was a little concerned for my team at one point, but I figured defensively our team is very sharp. Fundamentally, we’re very sound, our bats would come alive eventually, and that’s exactly what happened.”
“Strong pitching by Lyndsey Brandow, who is my daughter, and strong catching by Vic DiPippo, which only allowed them one run in that last game,” the manager added.
Cranston draws Delaware first in the regionals and it will have revenge on its mind. The two teams met two years ago during the 9/10 finals in the Mid-Atlantic Regional, and Cranston wound up losing by just one run.
“We had runners on second and third, we just couldn’t get that one run in to tie and it was the bottom of the sixth,” the Cranston manager said. “We were rallying, but we just couldn’t get that last run across the plate.”
Lyndsey Brandow expressed her feelings on winning the state title and meeting Delaware again.
“It feels great,” she said. “All the girls, we just can’t wait to get to Bristol and we’re hoping on getting to the World Series because the team that beat us before only beat us by one run. So, it was a pretty close game.”
On the other side, Warwick manager Alicia Bordeleau was proud of her girls and said that her team left it all out on the field.
“I think they gave it everything they had,” Bordeleau said. “They fought hard to get here and they really are a family, these girls. They’re like sisters.”
Krause, who pitched a complete-game in the first game was upset with the loss, but she held her head high because her team gave it its all.
“We tried our best, but unfortunately we fell short,” Krause added.