Warwick North cruises past Cranston Western

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The Warwick North 11/12-year-old all-stars have pummeled their way to an appearance in the state championship round after a 22-4 victory over reigning New England representative Cranston Western on Sunday night.

North trailed 2-0 right out of the gate after a home run from Jake SanAntonio, but the bats couldn’t stay quiet for long. Warwick cut the deficit to 2-1 in the second before exploding for seven runs in the third and 14 in the fourth to put the game away.

“That’s pretty good,” Warwick North manager Ken Rix said of the team’s offensive outburst in the later innings. “Pitching and defense were huge, too, not every game is gonna be like that. So we’ve got to make the plays in the field. We can’t walk guys, and we did a pretty good job of that tonight.”

Colin Lemieux pitched effectively for Warwick North, allowing six hits and three runs while striking out seven and walking only one. Lemieux threw just 65 pitches and the mercy-ruling allows him to be ready in case he needs to start a winner-takes-all game on Thursday.

“Colin was good on the mound again and we backed him with the bats,” Rix said. “I’m happy for our guys.”

CWLL starter Mason Bissitt lost control as the Warwick lineup turned over in the third inning. He walked Aaron Narcavage, Domenic Brazeau and Lemieux to begin the frame, yielding to SanAntonio as cleanup hitter Kenny Rix stepped in. Rix took SanAntonio’s first pitch off the helmet to drive in the tying run.

Cranston Western gave Warwick more help than it needed, too, as Brazeau scored on a wild pitch and Lemieux crossed on a passed ball to give Warwick a 4-2 lead.

Chase Pariseau picked up his second RBI of the day on a ground out before D.J. Sollitto laced an RBI double into left center to extend the advantage out to 6-2. Pinch-hitter Max Turner brought another run around on a blooper into right field, eventually scoring himself on Brazeau’s RBI knock up the middle.

“My message [after the game] was ‘Don’t let pressure beat you,’” Cranston Western manager Gary Bucci said. “If you can’t execute something, that’s fine. But don’t let the pressure beat you. And I think with a couple of pitchers, it did.”

CWLL got the lead down to 8-3, but Warwick pounced again in the fourth. North sent 19 batters to the plate and 14 of them scored to make the gap insurmountable. Some of the highlights included a 3-run blast off the bat of Sean Gallagher and a 2-RBI single from Rix. When all was said and done, CWLL had burned through four pitchers to escape the inning.

Cullen McGrew closed the door in the fourth inning. CWLL tacked on one more run, but McGrew was able to work a fielder’s choice and a strikeout to quietly end the game.

“They’re focused,” Ken Rix said. “They’ve been focused. They’ve worked hard all year. Some of them may beat us, but we’re focused. We’ll come and bring our best game.”

Warwick North has a couple of days off before the title round begins at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow. Cranston Western will face off with Lincoln in an elimination game to determine which side advances to the final. CWLL came back to beat Lincoln 7-5 in the opening round after initially trailing 5-0.

The winner of CWLL/Lincoln will have to defeat Warwick North twice, which, with the offense it boasts, is an unenviable task.

“Just take one game at a time,” Ken Rix said. “I’ve seen too many people get knocked off. Anybody that gets overconfident, they lose. So we’ll go home, we’ll start practicing and prepare for our next game.”

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