“I feel amazing,” Tarara said after picking up his second victory of the tournament over Western. “I can not wait until I get to Bristol.”
“This is just incredible. It’s a first for me – obviously not for our town – but the kids are completely elated,” Cumberland American coach Tony Tarara said. “The kids are awesome, they played their hearts out and did us proud. It means everything. I’ve been telling the boys since the beginning, ‘You’re the best boys in the state, the best baseball team in the state. That’s what I think, you have to go prove it.’ Today, they proved it to everyone. They’re the best baseball team in Rhode Island.”
For the third time in seven seasons, Cumberland American will make the trip to Bristol, Conn. to participate in New Englands. On each of the squad’s previous two visits, they’ve won the New England title and gone on to Williamsport, Penn. for the Little League World Series.
This season’s edition of CALL state champions will open play next Sunday night at 7 p.m. against the New Hampshire champion Currently, Concord leads Goffstown 1-0 in the best-of-three title series.
“I didn’t really expect that we’d go to Bristol, but I always wanted to go,” catcher J.J. Sanzi said. “That’s going to be awesome. That’s going to be so fun to play there.”
Cranston Western, the 2015 state and New England champions, stayed alive in the tournament Friday night by scoring the game’s final seven runs in a 9-6 victory. The win came at a huge cost though, because ace Perry Gaudreau and No. 2 hurler Colby Kuzman were both needed to secure the win.
CALL’s strategy Saturday night was to get to the Western bullpen as quickly as possible. Starter Jack Snowling used 46 pitches to record three outs in the opening inning, as Tarara, Cote, LaRose and Andrew Mastin all scored runs.
After Gaudreau hit a two-run single in the second to tie the game, CALL went back to work against Snowling. With Cote on first base following a fielder’s choice, LaRose smacked his third home run of the tournament to give the District 4 champions a lead they would never relinquish.
“It was a fastball low and away, so it wasn’t a good pitch to swing at,” LaRose said. “I got good barrel on it, hit it the other way and it went out.”
Tarara, who took the loss in Friday’s game, settled down after laboring through the first two innings. The righty allowed just one hit – a Marcus Chung bunt single – over the final two innings. He finished the evening with two strikeouts and two walks.
“After last night I just said we better beat this Cranston team because I was so mad,” Tarara said. “I did everything I was supposed to. I took my vitamins and I was ready. I just said to myself before the game I’ll sing my song and I’ll be fine.”
Tarara came through at the plate, as he lined a two-run double to center off of reliever Anthony Veltri to score Elijah Cinieri and leadoff hitter Scotty Penney in the third. Sanzi met reliever Sam Lucas with an RBI single before Figueira drew a bases-loaded walk and Andy Ray hit an infield RBI single to increase the lead to 12-4.
After giving up a one-out single to Tarara in the fourth, Masse simply lost command of his pitches. He issued walks to Cote and LaRose before hitting Sanzi to score Tarara.
After a failed squeeze bunt produced the second out at home, Figueira was hit with the second pitch he saw to score LaRose and send Cumberland American to Bristol.
“Going to the Little League World Series is my dream and now we’re one step closer,” Cote said a day after cracking two home runs.
“This is crazy, it’s a dream come true,” LaRose said. “I’ve always watched the older kids on TV, now it’s me.”
For the third time in the last seven seasons, Cumberland American Little League is headed to Bristol, Conn. to play in New Englands. This season’s squad, which crushed Cranston Western 14-4 Saturday, joins the 2011 and 2014 title teams. Both of those teams went to World Series.
Cumberland American’s Dante Figueira (14) drove in the game-ending run in Saturday’s 14-4 mercy-rule win over Cranston Western in the state final when he was hit by a pitch to plate 11year-old Jack LaRose (42). LaRose belted a home run and scored three runs in the win.