2008 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 - Cumberland (District 4)
At Garvin Field

Participating Teams
District 1 Champions Cranston Western
District 2 Champions Barrington
District 3 Champions Warwick Continental
District 4 Champions Cumberland American

Click here to view 2008 district tournament results for Rhode Island.

Tournament Results:

Opening Round:
Cranston Western 2, Cumberland American 1
Warwick Continental 14, Barrington 4 (6 innings)

Winner's Bracket Finals:
Cranston Western 7, Warwick Continental 1

Elimination Bracket Semifinals (four teams remain):
Barrington 7, Cumberland American 3 (elim.)

Elimination Bracket Finals (three teams remain):
Warwick Continental 2, Barrington 1 (elim.)

Championship Game:
Cranston Western 5, Warwick Continental 4 (TITLE)


Trailing Warwick Continental Little League 4-3 in the championship game of the Rhode Island state Little League tournament, Cranston Western Little League was down to its final inning, then its final out, and then its final strike.

But Ed Markowski made sure his team had the final say.

Markowski lined a two-out, two-strike pitch over the right fielder's head and to the fence for a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning, helping Cranston Western to rally for a 5-4 victory at Garvin Field in Cumberland. Markowski's hit drove in the tying and winning runs, and helped Cranston Western to earn its second consecutive state championship in the major baseball division.

With the win, Cranston Western advanced to the New England Region tournament in Bristol, Connecticut.

Markowski's hit capped a rally that completed Cranston's comeback from a 4-2 fifth inning deficit, and reversed momentum that had changed just one batter earlier. Nick Castagliuolo and Dan Miller reached to open the inning, and both runners moved up on Doug Forte's sacrifice. Castagliuolo raced for the plate on Cory Levesque's grounder, but shortstop Danny Mallette gunned him down to preserve Warwick's lead and push Cranston to within an out of defeat. Murkowski followed by driving an 0-2 pitch toward right field. Warwick's outfielder broke toward the plate when the ball was hit, but the low line drive continued rising and landed over the fielder's head to easily score both Cranston baserunners.

"It's all about mental toughness," said Cranston Western manager Gary Bucci, who also piloted Cranston Western's 2005 state championship team. "I talk to these guys about that all the time and it resonates with them. And that is what I am most proud of. We stress mental toughness so much and these guys really persevered today."

Cranston's tenacity was evident in the fourth inning, when the District 1 champions scored twice, but more importantly forced Warwick starter Mike King to grind through 39 pitches before escaping the inning with a one-run deficit. Vicario drew an 11-pitch walk to open the inning, and after a pair of strikeouts, Jeff Ragosta walked after a seven-pitch at-bat. The left-hander benefitted when a ball was called after the plate umpire inadvertently appealed to first base instead of third following a check-swing. Vicario eventually scored on a wild pitch, and Ragosta followed after a passed ball and throwing error.

King, who had handcuffed Cranston Western's offense in the game's early innings, was forced to exit after the marathon inning due to pitch count limits.

"Vicario's at-bat changed the game," said Bucci. He had an eleven-pitch at-bat and it eliminated Mike King. It took a hard-throwing pitcher off the mound and changed the complexion of the game."

"King's pitch count hurt," agreed Warwick manager Al Mann. "I never expected him to go just four innings. But that's the way it goes sometimes."

Warwick Continental reclaimed the lead on Mallette's three-run homer in the fifth, but Cranston Western scratched for a run in the bottom of the inning before winning it in the sixth.

Cranston pitcher Louis Umberto struck out nine and surrendered just three hits in five-plus innings of work. Reliever Rob Henry entered in the sixth and retired three batters in a row to help keep Cranston Western within striking distance.

Cranston Western, which returned no players from its 2007 major baseball state championship team, won all three of its games at the state tournament. The District 1 kingpins edged Cumberland American Little League, 2-1, in the tourney's opening game, then pulled away late in a 7-1 win over Warwick Continental.

Cranston managed just two hits against Cumberland starter Jesse Gilbert in the opening round win, but both came in a third inning rally that decided the game. Miller, the Cranston third baseman, lined a home run over the left field fence to open the inning, and with two outs, Marchoswki delivered a run-scoring double to left.

Cumberland halved the lead in the fifth, when Kevin Seaver walked and later scored on an error. The District 4 champions managed just one hit of their own as Umberto kept Cumberland's offense in check after Zach Noe's second inning single.

The next day, Cranston's offense struggled again in the early innings, as the eventual champions carried a precarious 1-0 lead into the fifth inning of their first meeting with Warwick Continental. But Cranston jumped on Warwick's bullpen after starter Kyle Bruckshaw departed due to pitch count limits, and slammed four home runs as part of a six-run fifth inning rally that sealed the win. Vicario initiated the barrage with a two-run shot to center field, and Umberto, Brian Franco, and Levesque all cleared the fences later in the inning.

"We really hadn't come out with the hitting yet," remarked Bucci after watching his team's six-run outburst. "That was a taste of it. The hitting barrage was tremendous."

"We needed to get four innings out of Bruckshaw, and we did," said Mann of the Warwick starting pitcher. "I thought he pitched very well. He gave us what we wanted."

Cranston pitcher Doug Forte also turned in a strong effort, holding a potent Warwick offense to just two hits over 4-2/3 innings. Both hits came in the first inning, when Warwick advanced runners to second and third with nobody out before squandering the opportunity.

"He's just a small kid, and his delivery has a little bit of a wrinkle to it," said Bucci of Forte. "I think he kept them off guard the whole game. He pitched outstanding."

Warwick shook off the loss, and staged a sixth inning rally of its own in a 2-1 victory over Barrington in the elimination bracket final. Batting with the bases loaded and one out, Robby Romano grounded a pitch back up the middle that deflected off the pitcher's glove and rolled toward second base. Ryan Charette scored from third to lift Warwick Continental into the state championship game for the third time in five years.

Warwick starter Evan Stamps struck out nine and allowed four hits before switching positions with two outs in the top of the sixth. King inherited two baserunners, but stranded both by registering an inning-ending strikeout.

Barrington picher Daniel O'Brien held Warwick to just one hit -- Romano's solo home run in the second -- in 5-1/3 innings pitched. He struck out 12 and walked two batters. Warwick's decisive rally began after O'Brien exited the mound, as Charette doubled into the right center field gap and advanced to third on a fielding error before Romano's infield hit ended the game.

The next night, Warwick looked primed to extend the tournament to a final game, but Markowski's final inning heroics helped lift Cranston Western to the major baseball state championship for the seventh time in the league's history.

"I have been so fortunate with this league," said Bucci after the championship game. "This is our third state championship in four years, and they seem to get better every year. And I am not minimizing any of the other teams, but this was a great win."

"We had it," said Mann, the Warwick manager. "I really thought we had it. I thought we had the momentum... But it just didn't happen for us. We were one strike away, one catch away."

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


  Winner's Bracket Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 R H E
Cranston Western 0 0 1 0 6 0 7 - -
Warwick Continental 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 - -
  Championship Game
Warwick Continental 0 0 0 1 3 0 4 3 -
Cranston Western 0 0 0 2 1 2 5 - -

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Last revision: 06/13/2009