SOUTH KINGSTOWN – It was a tale of two teams for the South Kingstown National 11-Year Old All-Stars last week. After dropping their first game of the District 3 tournament in a runaway against Warwick Continental on Tuesday, the team came back on Thursday and did the same to their opponent, taking down East Greenwich by a score of 11-2 at Tuckertown Park.
“Huge improvement from that first game on Tuesday,” said South Kingstown manager Kevin Kanaczet. “We just played sound baseball. Timely hitting, we played good defense and we got the pitching. It starts with pitching and we got it today.”
East Greenwich, who fell into the losers’ bracket with a 3-0 loss in their tournament opener on Monday night, got off to a hot start on Thursday, making it look as though it could be another long night for National.
After South starter Hunter Roberts was able to retire the first two batters of the game, Aidan Osborne drew a walk and then Brad Lombardi hit a bomb that gave EG a 2-0 lead before South came to the plate.
The lead, however, was short lived as National responded in kind, with a two-run homerun of their own in the bottom of the first to take the lead. A defensive error by East Greenwich brought home the first SK run and put a runner on for Joe Calvino, who bested Lombardi with a shot of his own that gave South a 3-2 advantage, from which they never looked back. For Calvino it was the first of two two-run homeruns on the day.
“He is locked in right now, there’s no doubt about it,” Kanaczet said. “He got us going there and we just tacked on from there.”
With his team out to a 4-2 lead after a series of walk brought home another in the bottom of the first, Roberts was able to recover from his early struggles. The right-hander settled in and dominated East Greenwich hitters, striking out the side in the next two innings as his offense continued to amass runs, scoring another four in the second and three in the third.
With a sizable lead at 11-2 and knowing the difficulty of the road ahead, Kanaczet went to his bullpen early, bringing Calvino on in the fourth in an attempt to keep his arms as fresh as possible for any potential games over the weekend.
Though they never gave up hope and slowly began to put base runners on after Roberts left the mound, the EG batters did not fair that much better as the South relievers came in.
“This is a group of kids that will never give up,” said East Greenwich manager Mike Macaulay. “They kept their heads up throughout the whole game. We almost battled back.
“…I have faith in all the players we have.”
After a groundout to start the fourth, Lombardi came up with EG’s first hit since his homerun, but the rally was thwarted as Calvino struck out both Tyghe Healy and Luke Wagner to get out of the inning.
The next two innings followed a similar pattern for East Greenwich. As soon as they were able to get a runner on, South came right back to get out of the jam before any damage was done.
“I told them, ‘Major League Baseball, that’s why they play 162 games, because one game doesn’t measure how your team is,’” Macaulay said. “We play them 10 times, we probably beat them seven. Today wasn’t the seventh.”
Unable to generate any offense after the first inning, the game came to an end at 11-2 and with it East Greenwich’s tournament run after just two games. Unfortunately for South, their run did not last much longer than East’s.
Thursday’s win earned them at Tuckertown Park on Saturday, but it was the final game they would play, losing 14-8 to Warwick Continental, who had handed EG their first lost earlier in the week.