SMITHFIELD - North Kingstown/Wickford Little League's 11-year-old all-stars captured the state championship Wednesday night with a 2-1 win over Smithfield at Lou Dinobile Field.
The victory capped an undefeated run through states that saw NKW allow just four runs in three games. The way the bracket played out, NKW also beat every other team in the tournament - Barrington, Cranston Western and Smithfield.
Since a loss in the first round of district tournament play, NKW hasn't been defeated, with the win streak now up to eight games.
Smithfield took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of Wednesday's game, but Jack Diano settled in from there. He struck out 10 and didn't allow another run in 4.2 innings of work. Chris Ciarniello pitched the final 1.1 innings and stranded the tying run on third in the sixth to seal the win.
NKW tied the game in the bottom of the first when Diano took third on a ground ball and scored on an ensuing error. In the second inning, Gabe Saballa worked his way through a long at-bat for a walk, then came around on a single by Bodie Forsell.
The win earns NKW a trip to the 11U East Regional tournament, which will be held in Beverly, Massachusetts.
Wednesday's game ended too late for this week's print edition of the Independent. For full story and photos, see next week's paper.