Grand Slam Blast by Martins puts Riverside/EP All-Stars in the RI State Championship Tourney!
Overflow crowd at Ron Silva Complex/Forbes St erupts after epic extra inning All-Star game
"I don't cry easily ... but I just want to say ...," said Riverside/EP manager Vin Enright as he tried to address his team players & coaches after Tuesday's improbable win over the Barrington major league All-Stars. Enright put his head in his hands several times as he knealt down trying to speak. It took a few attempts but the manager finally got the words out. "You guys are amazing. Last night was the longest night of my life. You guys ...," and once again Enright was choked up. Known for working his teams hard and practising long hours, the manager was more emotional than usual on this night.
It took play over four nights to get the game in. Riverside and Barrington started district championship play on Saturday, July 17th but couldn't get the game in as area thunderstorms forced the game to Sunday. Riverside LL officials worked to get the Ron Silva Complex at Forbes street in playing shape and Riverside/EP eventually lost that game in a close 2-0 contest .
That set up an all or nothing championship game on Monday night. Barrington jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. After Barrington extended their lead to 3-0, a tenacious Riverside/EP team rallied back to tie the game at 3 in the bottom of the fifth inning. In the top of the sixth inning Barrington mounted a rally but it was stopped when Jose Figueroa made a running catch of a deep and very high fly ball to left field to end the inning. Riverside/EP Central failed to score in their half of the sixth and the game went to extra innings as darkness began to creep in.
After a scoreless 7th for the RIV/EP squad, the game then moved on to the top of the eighth inning in a controversial umpire's decision which surprised much of the overflow crowd, anticipating the game would be called for darkness. Umpires, coaches and District Administrator Bob Walker held numerous conversations as the evening got darker. There are no lights at Forbes Field. By extra inning rule, a Barrington runner was automatically placed on second base to start the inning. Barrington broke through with two runs to make the score 5-3 and as the inning ended, there were more discussions about continuing the game as it neared 8:30 pm. Riverside/EP clawed back with a 4th run and with the tying run on second base, players told umpires they could no longer see the ball and after yet another discussion with District officials and umpires, the game was suspended.
The suspended game was scheduled for Barrington's field the next night but after the Town of Barrington closed their fields due to weather, the game was sent back to Forbes street. The game resumed Tuesday from the exact point where it ended. There were two outs and the same 2-2 count on 10 year old Alex Enright. The bases were loaded. "Alex was a nervous wreck coming into this game," said father-coach Vin Enright. "I really felt bad for the pressure he was under and for all of the boys." The young Enright strode to the plate and everyone knew the game could end on one pitch with a Barrinton win.
The crowd was larger than the night before, even though everyone knew the game could end in a blink of an eye. Cars were parked on Wampanoag Trail and parents matched their kids nervousness. The game did end on a blink of two eyes, as Enright walked to force in the tying run from third. Riverside power hitter Aidan Martins came to the plate. Unlike mighty Casey lore, Martins came to the plate smiling and relaxed. Martins quickly slammed a walk-off grand slam homer to deep left field as the home crowd erupted into pandemonium. Players mobbed each other as Martins flew around the bases celebrating the 9-5 come from behind win.
"I've coached a lot of games in my life, but this is the best," said manager Enright. "Our players never gave up, I've said this right along. To come back against so many odds was unbelievable. Every player on this team contributed to this championship. One, pitch, one inning, one game at a time," he repeated. "Now let's go on to the RI State Championship, something an East Providence major division team hasn't done in many years."
The Riverside/Ep Central 12U stars will take on North Providence on Saturday, July 24th. The game will be played at Gavin Memorial Field, 1364 Diamond Hill Road in Cumberland, RI at 11:00 am. The four teams vying for the State Championship are: Riverside/EP, North Providence, Warwick Continental Americans and Smithfield. All games will be played at the Cumberland field.
Saturday's winners will play on July 26th at 7:45 pm and the State Championship game will be on Saturday, July 31st. at 7:00 pm. A loser's bracket game is slated for July 30th.
"I only wanted to put the ball in play," said Aidan Martins. His homer was one of the longest seen at the Forbes Field in recent memory. The walk off homerun ball was retrieved by a fan and Martin's parents immediately secured it for posterity.
The Riverside/E.P. Central Major All-Star roster includes: Jose Figueroa, Jake Sousa, Tristan Lawton, Tristan Tysvaer, Josh Shanty, Jaydon Alford, Owen Richards, Alex Enright, Aiden Martins, Jonathan "JJ" Renaud, Parker Andrews, Chris Charbonneau and Wyatt Andrews.
(For those wondering about the name Riverside/EP Central; roster numbers are dropping across the area causing leagues to merge. Pawtucket, once featuring 4 and 5 different leagues, are now down to just two. Many other towns are combining. There are only three major division teams in EP Central, Riverside & Rumford - combined. Accordingly, Riverside/EP Central have combined in some respects. A future article will discuss this issue in much more detail in the Reporter.)