Cranston Western rallies for thrilling victory over SK
The Cranston Western 11/12-year-olds overcame a six-run deficit to come back and defeat South Kingstown, 10-9, at Kennedy Field in Johnston on Tuesday night. Cranston’s Chris Piscione hit a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning to put his team on top, and then he closed the door on the mound in the top of the sixth to preserve the victory.
“We just never stopped cheering,” Piscione said. “We always fight and we never stop.”
With the win, Cranston moves on to the title game Thursday to play against Cumberland American, with Cranston Western having to win twice. Piscione is confident that his team can do just that.
Colby Kuzman started on the hill for Cranston and had a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the first. Mike Haberlin took the ball for South Kingstown.
In the top of the second, South Kingstown tried to blow it open. With one out, Phoenix Sward hit an infield single. After that, Kuzman walked back-to-back hitters in Haberlin and Tyler Murphy, loading the bases. Cam Holland drove in the runner from third to put South Kingstown up 1-0. Next, Kuzman walked in a run when he walked Danny Banks, making it 2-0. Then, Conor Kelly hammered a grand slam home run over the center field wall, increasing the South Kingstown edge to 6-0.
Cranston cut the deficit in half during the bottom of the third. First, Kuzman led off with a towering shot over the wall in right field, pulling his squad within 6-1. After that, Perry Gaudreau walked and Piscione was hit by a pitch. Then, Anthony Veltri drove in Gaudreau with a ground ball, making it 6-2. South Kingstown then dipped into its bullpen and grabbed Ryan O’Rourke. With runners at second and third, Vin Healey drove in pinch runner Nick Williams, cutting the lead to 6-3.
South Kingstown put some more runs on the board in the top of the fourth. With runners at second and third, Gavin Rodman drove in a run, increasing SK’s lead to 7-3. After that, Kuzman walked O’Rourke to load the bases before Cranston brought in Piscione to finish the game. The first hitter that Piscione faced, Matt Brock, launched a sacrifice fly to center to extend South Kingstown’s lead to 8-3. Then, Sward hit an RBI single, making it 9-3.
In the bottom of the inning, Cranston’s Jake Snowling put a ball on the ground and reached on an error at first base. Kuzman earned a walk before O’Rourke punched out Gaudreau for the first out. Piscione walked after that to load the bases. Then, O’Rourke walked in a run when he walked Sam Lucas, getting Cranston closer at 9-4. After that, Kuzman stole home and pulled Cranston within 9-5.
In the bottom of the fifth, Cranston completed the rally. Nick Perrotta and Nick Masse hit back-to-back one-out singles to get the ball rolling. With two outs, Kuzman worked a walk to load the bases. Then, O’Rourke walked in a run when he walked Gaudreau, making it 9-6. That run would prove very costly. With the bases reloaded, Piscione launched a grand slam over the wall in right, giving Cranston Western its only lead of the game. The smash came at just the right time.
Piscione shut the door in the top of the sixth, using two ground outs and a pop up to seal the win.
“I’ve been very fortunate to coach a lot of good teams,” Cranston manager Gary Bucci said. “The resilience is incredible. They’re believing now. They believe that they can win now. So, we take it one game at a time.”