SOUTH KINGSTOWN – It had become something of a habit for the Narragansett 9/10-Year Old All-Stars in their games leading up to last Thursday’s District 3 consolation bracket final at Tuckertown Park against South Kingstown American. They would start slow, allow their opponent to build up a big cushion and then surge back for the win.
This time around it was Narragansett jumping out to the early lead before South Kingstown fought back from a six-run deficit.
Ultimately, however, Narragansett managed to hold on for an 11-10 win.
“I didn’t like that position, to be honest with you,” said Narragansett manager Jason Laurie. “It is little league and I’ve seen bigger leads disappear faster.
“…It’s a little comfortable, but I think you’re more nervous about giving it up than you are chasing it.”
To stay somewhat consistent with the norm, Narragansett did find themselves down early as South Kingstown’s Jack Wentworth took Brian Vaganek yard on the very first pitch of the game for a 1-0 lead.
Narragansett quashed that deficit quickly though, coming right back with seven runs of their own in the bottom of the frame before South Kingstown recorded an out for a 7-1 advantage.
“Made a few mental errors early on and got down,” said South Kingstown manager Dave Palazzetti. “[Narragansett] hit the ball well. ...We made a few mental errors and they were able to capitalize. We gave them a head start and we were just never able to reclaim that.”
While SK never reclaimed its early lead, American did not pack it in once it fell behind. Rather, it came right back in the top of the second and began chipping away at the Narragansett lead.
Vaganek struggled to find his control in the second, walking five batters in the inning and striking another with a pitch, bringing home two of the three runs American scored in the inning. Andrew Mosher came up with the only hit of the second for American, an RBI single to left.
Narragansett responded right back once again, with another two runs to make the score 9-4 after two, but from there their bats went quiet, while SK kept plugging along, scoring one in the third, a pair in the fourth and one more in the fifth on another RBI single from Mosher to cut the lead to 9-8.
With its lead down to one, Narragansett’s bats found their groove again in the bottom of the fifth, stringing together singles from Ethan Betts, Sammy Laurie and Vaganek to get its cushion back to three runs.
South Kingstown’s resolve continued, however, setting the stage for a dramatic finish.
“It was a fun game,” Palazzetti said. “We gave them the big lead and after that we settled down and kept creeping back and creeping back and getting closer until we almost had it tied there.
“Maybe if it was tied, we don’t know. We fought to the end.”
Trailing 11-8 and down to their final three outs, Christian Heil led off the top of the sixth with a triple to start a rally that saw South bring in two runs to get back to within one.
With runners on the corners and two outs, Ben Brutti took off, attempting to steal, but ended up in a rundown between first and second.
Fortunately for Narragansett, it was a defensive play Laurie has had his team working on in recent weeks for just such a moment.
While Brutti was caught in a pickle between second and third, Wentworth took off from third to try and score the winning run.
It was tight, but ultimately the home plate umpire ruled Brutti was tagged out mere moments before Wentworth could score the run, ending the game and American’s run at the District 3 title.