2004 Rhode Island State Little League® Tournament Results
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Rhode Island State Tournament
Major Baseball Division

Toward the past

Toward the present

Rhode Island State Tournament
Host - Burrillville (District 4)
At Remansky Field; Sherman Park

Participating Teams
District 1 Champions Cranston American
District 2 Champions Portsmouth
District 3 Champions Warwick Continental
District 4 Champions Lincoln

Click here to view 2004 district tournament results for Rhode Island.

Tournament Results:

Opening Round:
Warwick Continental 7, Lincoln 6
Portsmouth 6, Cranston American 0 (forfeit; mandatory play violation)

Winner's Bracket Finals:
Warwick Continental 6, Portsmouth 1

Elimination Bracket Semifinals (four teams remain):
Lincoln 2, Cranston American 0 (elim.)

Elimination Bracket Finals (three teams remain):
Lincoln 6, Portsmouth 3 (elim.)

Championship Series:
Lincoln 10, Warwick Continental 0 (4 innings)
Lincoln 10, Warwick Continental 0 (5 innings; TITLE)


Travis Burke was struggling, and Lincoln Little League manager Randy Hien wanted to give his pitcher a boost. Like countless other Little League managers have done for generations, Hien called time out, and ambled from the dugout toward the mound.

But this was no ordinary walk.

Five months prior to the elimination bracket contest at the Rhode Island state tournament, Hien wrapped up a show at the Providence nightclub he owns and operates with his son Charlie, and headed toward home. It would be two months before he made it through his front door.

As Hien's Subaru climbed up the entrance ramp to Route 10 for the trip back to Lincoln, it was hit head-on by a drunken driver's sport utility vehicle traveling the wrong way down the ramp. The impact from the horrific collision was near-fatal to Hien. A broken sternum. Broken back. Broken nose. Broken clavicle. Both legs, his right heel and ankle, and several ribs, all broken. A bone in his leg severed an artery, causing massive blood loss.

"He basically sent me into never-never land," said Hien when describing the accident.

Hien spent eighteen hours in surgery after the collision, and was in a coma for four days before emerging to a throng of supporters. The community rallied to support Hien's family, cooking meals and raising thousands of dollars to help pay his mortgage and offset medical expenses. An anonymous Little League parent built a ramp so Hien could maneuver his wheelchair to the front door of his home.

"Everyone has been really good to us," said the 28-year Little League volunteer.

As Hien recovered, the victories began to come. He was released from the hospital after a two-month stay. His wife Patti, seven months pregnant at the time of the accident, gave birth to the couple's fifth child four days after his release. Hien soon participated in Lincoln Little League's annual season-opening parade, fulfilling a promise to his players as he coached his Lions team to an opening day victory over the Tigers.

Soon there were victories of another kind. Hien was at the helm, confined to a wheelchair but never missing a practice, as Lincoln outscored five opponents by a 48-3 margin to win its eighth District 4 title in nine years.

After a surprise loss in their state tournament opener, Lincoln began clawing through the double-elimination tournament. Though Burke held a 5-0 in the third inning of the elimination bracket final, Portsmouth Little League had loaded the bases with one out and was threatening to cut into Lincoln's advantage.

That's when Hien called time out, and made the slow, painful walk to the mound.

"I had gotten out of the chair a few times and probably walked a few feet," said the Lincoln manager. "I just said 'the heck with it'. I just thought he would need a little confidence and if he saw me walking out there it might help."

Burke found the confidence he needed. He fanned the next two batters, and went on to pitch a complete game as Lincoln eliminated a resilient Portsmouth team 6-3 to reach the state finals.

"He hadn't pitched more than 2-1/3 innings in any game, so that was a big game for him," said Hien.

It was big for Lincoln, as well. Three days later, Chris Costantino fired his second no-hitter of the tournament as Lincoln defeated Warwick Continental Little League 10-0 in five innings for its fifth state title in six years. Two weeks later, after a victory in the New England Region championship game, Lincoln was headed to the Little League World Series.

Costantino's dominance, or at least the anticipation of it, helped send Lincoln to the elimination bracket on the state tournament's first day. The District 4 champions opened up a 5-0 lead over Warwick Continental in the top of the second inning, and, though Costantino had pitched a scoreless first inning, Hien elected to remove his top pitcher from the mound to preserve his eligibility for Lincoln's next game. The move backfired, as Warwick rallied from a four-run deficit with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning to win the game. Tom Verdi's bases-loaded double over the right fielder's head cleared the bases and gave Warwick an improbable 7-6 win.

"It was just too tempting not to go for it," said Hien after the game. Because Costantino had pitched only one inning, he was eligible to pitch again in the next day's game, where a second straight win would have put Lincoln into the championship round without a loss. "If we had won this game here . . . they'd have to beat him (in either the winner's bracket finals or a potential 'if' game) to win (the tournament)."

Instead, Lincoln needed four wins in as many games to emerge as the Ocean State's champion. Costantino began the comeback, striking out seventeen batters and firing a no-hitter as Lincoln eliminated Cranston American Little League 2-0. The next day, Burke and Lincoln held off Portsmouth 6-3 to reach the championship round. Portsmouth pitcher Patrick Fagan, relying heavily on his curveball due to a tender rotator cuff, struck out twelve but succumbed to Lincoln's five-run third inning rally. Brendan Sullivan keyed Lincoln's outburst with a two-run homer.

"That pitcher turned in one gritty performance," said Hien of Fagan's effort. "He threw the heck out of the ball."

Portsmouth, the only other Rhode Island league to win a state championship in the past six years, had rebounded from an opening round loss in the District 2 tournament by winning seven consecutive games before falling to Warwick and Lincoln.

"In my seven years of coaching baseball, this is the proudest I've been of any team," said Portsmouth manager Paul Fagan. "The way they battled back after that first loss . . . it's a tough act to do.

"That's a great organization over there," said Paul Fagan of Hien's Lincoln team. "They've been on top for a while and they've got a whole lot of stuff going on there. I tip my hat off to them."

Lincoln had one more hurdle in order to stay on top: Warwick. Hien's team defeated the District 3 champions 10-0 in a mercy-rule shortened game to force a third meeting, and Costantino's twelve strikeout, no-hit performance soon clinched the title in a second 10-0 victory. Zach Trenteseaux's three-run homer in the second inning broke the game open, and Jeremy Rhault's two-run double in the fourth helped seal the win.

Lincoln led 6-0 as it took the field in the bottom of the second inning, but Hien had no plan to remove his ace from the mound a second time.

"I was born at night," said the longtime Lincoln volunteer. "But not last night.

"He's one of those pitchers that comes around every 20 years or so, said Hien of Costantino. "He's a special player."

Looking ahead, Hien knew his team stood a chance at returning to the Little League World Series for the second time in four years.

"We have the hitting. We have the pitching. We have the defense. We have the speed," said Hien, a coach alongside the late Lou Abraham on Lincoln's 2001 Little League World Series team.

"You can't guarantee you'll make it -- we still have the best teams in New England (to face)," said Hien. "I can guarantee two things: we will be gracious winners or gracious losers. Good sports, whether we win or lose."

Lincoln won. With Costantino homering and Alex Kay hurling a three-hitter, Lincoln downed New Hampshire's Portsmouth Little League 3-0 for the New England title, and was on its way back to South Williamsport.

Randy Hien's son Charlie wasn't sure the team would be traveling alone on the journey to Central Pennsylvania. The younger Hien had gone to view the wreckage of his dad's car the day after the accident.

"The right headlight was mashed into the driverís seat," he recalled. "The brake pedal was up on the driverís seat. The back of the car was smashed into the back seat. But underneath the passengerís seat, there was a manila envelope. The car was all rubbish and there was this manila envelope."

Charlie Hien opened the envelope, and found pictures of Lincoln's 2001 all-star team, unscathed from the impact of the collision. Randy Hien had long forgotten the envelope stuffed under the driver's seat in his Subaru. Inside were several photos of the coaches, including Abraham, a longtime Lincoln volunteer until a fatal heart attack in December 2003.

"Everything else in the car is mangled," marveled Charlie Hien, "except for the pictures of Lou. Itís almost like an angel jumped into the car and saved (Randy). It was so eerie. It was almost like Lou jumped into the car the moment of impact and just helped him through it.

"Some of the games I almost feel goosebumps. I can really feel Lou there."

Standing tall and walking proud, no doubt. Just like the rest of the Lincoln Little League all-star team.

Follow Lincoln at the New England Region Tournament -- Click here to view results.


  Championship Series Game 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 R H E
Lincoln 1 5 0 3 1 10 - -
Warwick Continental 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -

Toward the past

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Last revision: 06/26/2005