NORTH KINGSTOWN — After a close loss to Chariho in the winners bracket semifinals of the District 3 tournament, the North Kingstown/Wickford Little League 12-year-old all-stars were hoping to work their way back to another shot.
They took a successful first step with a walk-off win in their first losers bracket game, but they soon fell victim to another team on a revenge tour.
East Greenwich lost to NKW in the opening game of the tournament but won the rematch 8-1 Tuesday night at Wilson Park, ending NKW’s run. East Greenwich’s Jack Kiernan pitched a complete game, striking out 11 and giving up just a run in the second inning.
“We couldn’t string the hits together,” NKW manager Gary Kim said. “He pitched a great game, and that’s a good team.”
East Greenwich will now face Warwick North in the losers bracket final, with the winner advancing to face Chariho in the championship round.
NKW had beaten East Greenwich 5-2 in the first round June 29. A week later, NKW gave Chariho all it could handle but lost 6-5. That set up a do-or-die game Monday against Westerly National and NKW prevailed in dramatic fashion. Ronan Gately hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to break a 6-6 tie. It was the fourth home run of the day for NKW, which also got two blasts from Rock Arnold and one from Will Mascena.
“It was a great game,” Kim said. “Dramatic fashion. We thought that momentum would carry us into tonight.”
It’s said in baseball that momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher, and Kiernan stole it for East Greenwich. The right-hander also pitched in the first game against NKW but was better this time around. Jamie Souza had an RBI double in the second inning to score Will Thomas, but that was it for the NKW offense.
Kiernan stranded a runner at second in the fourth inning, then navigated the middle of the order in the fifth, working around a double by Arnold and a single by Gately, to escape. He also limited the damage in the final inning after a leadoff single by Keanu Kim and managed to stay under the pitch count limit to finish the game.
“He was pitching hard tonight,” Gary Kim said. “He threw a lot of strikes and he made it through the whole game.”
Souza drew the start for NKW and matched Kiernan for much of the way. He struck out nine before reaching his pitch limit in the fifth. At that point, East Greenwich led 2-1 thanks to a steal of home by Daniel Nuti in the first inning and an RBI single by Jacob Montenegro in the third.
Souza departed with two runners on base in the fifth and Montengro greeted reliever Jacob Shea with a line drive smash to the gap in right field. Both runners scored and when the throw home bounced away, Montenegro raced in, making it 5-1.
East Greenwich tacked on three more runs in the sixth on a pair of errors. The win was the third straight in the losers bracket for East Greenwich.
NKW finishes as one of the last four teams standing.
“This was a great experience for all the boys, and I think it’s the deepest we’ve gotten for the 12s in a few years,” Kim said. “All the games have been really close in this district. It’s been a good year that way.”