2007 Rhode Island State Little League® Tournament Results
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Rhode Island State Tournament
Major Baseball Division

Toward the past

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Rhode Island State Tournament
Host - Wickford (District 3)
At Wilson Park

Participating Teams
District 1 Champions Cranston Western
District 2 Champions Portsmouth
District 3 Champions Warwick American
District 4 Champions Cumberland National

Click here to view 2007 district tournament results for Rhode Island.
Tournament Results:

Opening Round:
Cranston Western 3, Portsmouth 0
Warwick American 3, Cumberland National 1

Elimination Bracket Semifinals (four teams remain):
Portsmouth 8, Cumberland National 0 (elim.)

Winner's Bracket Finals:
Cranston Western 16, Warwick American 6

Elimination Bracket Finals (three teams remain):
Portsmouth 8, Warwick American 0 (elim.)

Championship Game:
Cranston Western 2, Portsmouth 0 (TITLE)


Once his team advanced to the Rhode Island state championship game, Cranston Western Little League manager Joe Demers was cautiously optimistic.

"This is a great position to be in," said Demers, whose team awaited the winner of the elimination bracket after victories in its first two tournament games. "But ... a good friend of mine coached the Barrington team last year, which won its first two games of the state tournament before Lincoln came back and beat them. I like our chances, but we are not overconfident."

Demers knew his team's title game opponent would be a team they had already beaten. What he didn't know is that his pitcher would improve upon the masterpiece that helped lift Cranston Western to the title game in the first place.

Cranston Western pitcher Joe Nicolace, who previously threw five shutout innings against Portsmouth Little League on the tournament's opening day, threw a two-hit complete game and struck out fifteen batters against the same team as Cranston Western claimed a 2-0 victory in the state championship game at Wilson Park in Wickford.

"I have a lot of good pitchers," said Cranston Western manager Jim Demers. "However you want to rank them, they've all been outstanding. But (today) it was all Joe Nicolace. I couldn't ask for a better performance."

"We couldn't solve the left-hander," said Portsmouth manager Jim Rooney. "We didn't have any left-handers in our league this year that threw hard like him, so it was an adjustment. We never made the adjustment."

Nicolace allowed only four baserunners in the game, and despite his fifteen strikeouts, needed twelve pitches or less in four of his six innings of work.

"We just couldn't hit him tonight, and it was frustrating," said Rooney. "This is the second time around against him, and I thought we were going to get our bats going tonight."

In the tournament's opening game, Nicolace surrendered only three hits and struck out eleven against the same team in a 3-0 Cranston Western victory.

In the title game, Portsmouth pitcher Mike O'Connell surrendered just three hits over six innings, but a trio of wild pitches led to both of Cranston Western's runs. Garrett Demers singled with one out in the first inning, and special pinch runner Connor Gershkoff moved to third on a wild pitch and groundout before scoring on a second wild pitch.

In the sixth, Seth Hayden singled and moved to third on two passed balls before racing home on another wild pitch.

"We have a very good offense," said Jim Demers. "But it comes and goes. We faced a tough pitcher (O'Connell) who shut us down. We were lucky enough to manufacture a few runs to get it done."

Cranston Western's offense was more readily on display in its second state tournament game, when the team scored fourteen runs in the final two innings to overpower Warwick American Little League, 16-6. Cranston Western trailed 4-2 through three innings, then sent ten batters to the plate in a six-run fourth inning rally, and eleven more during an eight run flurry in the fifth.

Cranston Western's offense collected eleven hits, including a pair of home runs, during the two big innings.

"Everyone came up big for us," said Jim Demers after the win, which vaulted Cranston Western into the championship game. "(Warwick's pitcher) was throwing the ball hard, but, fortunately for us, his pitch count got high and they had to take him out in the fourth inning. It was nice to see our bats come alive like that."

Cranston had left seven runners stranded in the game's first three innings, including the bases loaded in the second and third, but finally capitalized in the fourth. Hayden started the rally with a one out single, and Garrett Demers followed with a base hit before Joe Manni drove the first pitch he saw over the right field fence for a three-run homer.

Matt Rousseau followed with a single, and Tony Matiello doubled before Eric Rosa extended the inning by reaching on a two out error. All three baserunners eventually scored as Cranston opened an 8-4 lead.

Warwick American responded in the bottom of the inning, scoring twice and loading the bases with one out before Garrett Demers fanned the next two hitters to end the threat.

Cranston Western continued its onslaught in the fifth. Two walks and a hit batsman loaded the bases with nobody out, then Nicolace and Rousseau each delivered two-run singles. Rose and Paul Fillipone both singled home a run, then Hayden pushed the lead to double-digits with a two-run homer.

"Western is a good hitting club," said Warwick manager Tom O'Mara. "They came out and hit, but our pitching was off a little bit tonight."

"This was an awesome win," said Demers. "This team has really come together over the last three or four games. No one quits and you don't ever see anyone sitting on the bench."

Portsmouth also showed no quit, rebounding from its opening round loss with a pair of shutout wins. The District 2 winners got back-to-back home runs from Anthony Tingley and Andrew Chrabascz to open the first inning, then rode the one-hit pitching of O'Connell to an 8-0 victory over Cumberland National Little League.

Portsmouth received a huge boost in the first inning. Cumberland's first two batters reached on a walk and a double, but the first runner was thrown out at the plate trying to score on the double, and the batter was then thrown out trying to advance to third on the same play.

"That was big," said Rooney of his team's defensive effort in the inning. "I thought we were in big trouble when that kid hit the double down the line."

Right fielder Kyle Mitchell, whose relay helped retire the runner on the previous play, then ended the inning with a sliding catch in foul territory.

O'Connell did not allow another hit, and issued just two walks for the remainder of the game.

The next day, Chrabascz bettered O'Connell's one-hit effort, throwing a 77-pitch no-hitter as Portsmouth eliminated Warwick American, 8-0. Chrabascz, who struck out thirteen batters, carried a perfect game into the fifth inning of the win.

"He had a good off-speed pitch," said O'Mara, the Warwick manager. "He had a good fastball but he mixed in that good off-speed stuff. You don't see that a lot."

Portsmouth scored twice in the second inning, then pulled away with four in the fourth. Chrabascz and Anthony Serina both delivered run-scoring hits in the fourth.

"Portsmouth is a well-coached team. They waited and they were very patient," said O'Mara.

"We just ran into a couple of buzzsaws," said the Warwick manager of his team's final two opponents.

Portsmouth soon ran into its own buzzsaw, in the form of Nicolace, who silenced the team's bats. But Rooney tipped his cap to the Cranston hurler, and recognized his team's achievement in reaching the title game.

"Unfortunately, he hit all his spots and was really tough to pick up out there," said Rooney.

"You know, despite all of this, we had a superb year," added the Portsmouth manager. "If you're down to the final two teams in the state, you know you've done something special."

Cranston Western also had a special summer, one which continued into the next tournament. The Rhode Island champions won their fifth state championship in a twelve-year span, and continued their tournament run at the New England Region tournament in Bristol, Connecticut. Cranston Western finished the regional with a 1-3 record.

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


  Opening Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 R H E
Cranston Western 0 0 3 0 0 0 3 - -
Portsmouth 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 -
  Opening Round
Warwick American 2 0 0 0 0 1 3 - 0
Cumberland National 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 -
  Elimination Bracket Semifinal
Portsmouth 2 0 2 4 0 0 8 - -
Cumberland National 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 -
NOTE: Portsmouth may have been the home team in this game.
  Winner's Bracket Final
Cranston Western 1 1 0 6 8 16 - -
Warwick American 2 1 1 2 0 6 - -
  Elimination Bracket Final
Warwick American 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -
Portsmouth 0 2 0 4 2 x 8 - -
  Championship Game
Cranston Western 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 -
Portsmouth 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 -

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