The Portsmouth Little League Major All-Stars advanced to the state finals after edging Cumberland 3-2 on Saturday and topping North Kingstown/Wickford 7-6 on Monday in the 12U state championship …
PORTSMOUTH — The Portsmouth Little League Major All-Stars advanced to the state finals after edging Cumberland 3-2 on Saturday and topping North Kingstown/Wickford 7-6 on Monday in the 12U state championship tournament at Lee Romano Field in North Providence.
Portsmouth, the winner’s bracket finalist, will play on Friday at 7 p.m., against the winner of the loser’s bracket semifinal between Johnston and North Kingstown/Wickford, which was set for Wednesday night.
Portsmouth has developed a knack for winning close games under head coach Bob Campion and his staff.
“Pitching, hitting and defense,” Campion said. “You need all three to work at the same time to get out of the district and win at this level. Nobody likes to see a blowout either way. This was good baseball. They have been fun games to watch. Unfortunately, someone has to be on the losing end.”
Thus far, that team hasn’t been Portsmouth.
In game one against Cumberland, Tyler Boiani got Portsmouth off to a good start with his pitching and his hitting. The flame-throwing lefty struck out six, walked none and allowed five hits and two runs in 4 1/3 innings. The three-hitter blasted a two-run bomb over the centerfield fence in the first inning to give Portsmouth a 2-0 lead.
“That was crazy,” said teammate Ben Humm of Boiani's homer. “He crushed it.”
Cumberland knotted the game in the top of the third inning, but Humm singled home Tyler Doucet to put Portsmouth back on top 3-2.
Humm came on to pitch in relief of Boiani after one out in the fifth inning. He walked a batter, then struck out Tyler Lamora for the second out. Cumberland pitcher Cameron Slack singled to give Cumberland runners on first and second for three-hitter Ryan Amaral. Amaral laced a Humm fastball to the right side of the second-base bag. Kane Brule dove for it, knocked it down, and ran over to second base to force out Slack and end the inning.
“Kane zeroed in and threw himself in front of the truck,” said Campion. “If he doesn’t make that play, we are probably still playing that game.”
“It was heading up the middle,” Brule said. “And it took a hop. I just trusted myself. I dove and got it and knew what to do from there.”
Left-fielder Riven Patel made another big play to keep Portsmouth up by a run. With a runner on and no outs, Paxton Chenevert hit a fly ball to left field. Patel waited as the ball looked to be coming right at him, but the ball died and began to fall earlier than expected. The left-fielder sprinted in and slid to make the catch for the first out of the inning. That’s all Humm needed, as he got the next two batters to pop up and ground out to end the game.
Portsmouth 7, North Kingstown/Wickford 6
The bats awoke for Portsmouth as the team bashed 11 hits and jumped out to a 5-0 lead in game two against North Kingstown/Wickford on Monday night.
Brule singled home Doucet and Boiani to give Portsmouth a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Ryan Campion singled home Jacob Labonte and Boiani singled home Doucet and Campion for a 5-0 lead after two innings.
Meanwhile, Riven Patel was pitching a gem. The righty struck out three, walked three and allowed just two hits and one run in three innings. Coach Campion replaced Patel with Humm in the fourth inning. North Kingstown/Wickford greeted him with three straight hits and tied the game, 5-5.
Humm, who struck out four, walked a batter, hit a batter and allowed four hits and five runs in three innings, rebounded and gave up just one run the rest of the way.
Portsmouth scored two in the bottom of the fifth to take back the lead. Doucet (3 for 3) singled home Mason Smith and Ryan Campion singled home Carter Doran to give Portsmouth a 7-5 lead. Campion went 2 for 4 and had two RBIs and drove in what proved to be the winning run.
“We've got a good bunch of kids. They are playing their hearts out. That’s all we can ask,” Campion said. “We bust their humps at practice, and they bust their humps at practice. I hope that they see that all of the work that they are putting in is paying off.”