EAST GREENWICH — A long night at Cragan Field had a happy ending for the North Kingstown/Wickford Little League 12-year-old all-stars.
After rain and lightning forced a two-hour delay of Saturday’s District 3 tournament opener, the NKW stars got dominant pitching from Rock Arnold and broke through at the plate for a 5-2 victory over East Greenwich.
“These guys had a good week of practice and they played well on the field,” manager Gary Kim said. “Hopefully we can do well again this week.”
NKW advanced to a winners bracket semifinal matchup Saturday against Chariho, which beat defending champion Coventry in the opening round. NKW will host the game at Wilson Park, beginning at 5 p.m.
Arnold is expected to be on the mound again, good news for NKW after his performance against East Greenwich. The right-hander struck out 10 and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Before he reached his pitch count limit with one out in the sixth inning, East Greenwich managed just one hit, a bunt single in the fifth.
“Rock Arnold pitched a hell of a game. When he can find his location, he pitches outstanding,” Kim said. “He had a perfect game for us in the regular season. Throwing strikes, keeping his pitch count low. He was mixing it up a little bit, too, throwing some off-speed pitches. And when EG put the bat on the ball, our fielders made plays.”
East Greenwich’s Jack Kiernan also had a shutout going until Ronan Gately smashed a towering home run to center field in the third inning.
“Ronan hit that home run and that kind of opened things up a little bit,” Kim said.
Keanu Kim reached on an error to start the fourth and later came around on a wild pitch, after a Landon Bodington base hit moved him to third.
“We got our substitute players in and those guys put their bat on the ball, got on base,” Gary Kim said. “That part of the order produced for us.”
It was the top of the order’s turn in the fifth. Will Mascena led off with a double and Gately reached on an infield hit. A double by Jacob Shea scored two runs before Keanu Kim plated another with a base hit, making it 5-0.
Once Arnold hit the pitch limit, Shea took the mound and was greeted rudely by a Jacob Montenegro double. After Shea got a groundout on a nice play by Keanu Kim at second, Montenegro scored on a passed ball and Avery Picchione kept the inning going with a single. A walk and an RBI single by Quinn O’Connell made it 5-2 and brought the tying run to the plate. But Shea induced a grounder to shortstop, where Arnold charged, scooped and whipped a throw to first for the final out.
“That’s a lot of pressure for a 12-year-old, especially when they started scoring,” Gary Kim said. “Jacob did a good job.”
The win has NKW among four teams left in the winners bracket, along with Chariho, Warwick Continental American and Warwick North.
“I hope we get some momentum,” Kim said. “We have a full week off now. Hopefully we can keep it going. We’ll put some good practices in all week long.”