Rhode Island enjoys a memorable, thrilling run as regional title doesn't come easy

Published on Sunday, 11 August 2019 17:37
Written by ZACK CARPENTER

@ZACKCARPENTERBP

BRISTOL - For Rhode Island manager Chris Promades, all four of his team’s games this week have been an exhilaration-fueled thrill ride. 

It all turned into a great ending for his Little League team, as it polished off a 3-1 run in the New England Regional with a 6-4 championship game victory over New Hampshire on Saturday to advance to the World Series. But that doesn’t mean it was relaxing. 

“It’s so much fun, but it’s exhausting,” Promades said. “Even an umpire at first base said to me, ‘Every game you guys play is like a heart attack. You guys have gotta put us through that.’ It’s like having a heart attack, and he couldn’t have said it any better. They’re the comeback kids, and it’s a grind.”

First came an extra-innings victory on Monday, when his son, Christopher Promades, broke a 4-4 tie in the seventh inning with a two-run single for a 6-4 win - coming on Christopher’s birthday, no less. 

Then a 2-1 loss to New Hampshire on Thursday in which his club headed to the bottom of the sixth trailing by two runs, cut its deficit to one, put the game-tying and go-ahead run on first and second base, but eventually lost to go on the brink of elimination. 

That’s when Rhode Island and Connecticut played to a 0-0 stalemate through 4½ innings thanks to brilliant pitching performances from Alex Anderson (Rhode Island) and Christian Kells and Johnny Reh (Connecticut). But two-run singles from Owen Pfeffer and Lucas Tanous created a 4-0 victory and a spot in Saturday title game. 

And that might’ve been the craziest of them all, as Rhode Island took advantage of a wild, chaotic play in the fifth inning to hold off a New Hampshire rally. 

All four games, heart attack-inducing or not, were all perfect examples of what the Rhode Island coaching staff has emphasized to its players all season long. 

“We talk about it a lot, it’s not only the destination, but it’s the journey that got us here is what we talk about all the time,” Promades said. “We couldn’t be more impressed with these kids. … All the credit goes to the players. They’ve grinded, battled, fought.”

Added assistant coach Frank Fede: “It’s just been an amazing journey, and I think the biggest take-home message is no matter how much talent you have, talent means nothing unless you have will. You’ve gotta have will, you’ve gotta have grit, and you’ve gotta have tenacity.”

Fede went on to talk about Barrington, R.I., the community that this team hails from, as being a gritty one where people care about each other.

“We’re bringing grit back to Barrington,” Fede said. 

And now, they will also be taking it to Williamsport, Pa., home of the Little League World Series. While there, they will be able to showcase some New England toughness that would have made John Adams and Benjamin Franklin proud. 

“The great coaches I’ve had … they never mentioned the words winning and losing,” Fede said. “They just talked about grinding and competing and giving 100 percent of your head and 100 percent of your heart, never quitting, being resilient and being mentally tough. 

“[Those are] all the things that our founding fathers did for our country, fighting militias in the Revolutionary War. That’s what our country’s based on, and that’s what our team’s based on. I don’t mean to get historical on you guys, but that’s what we are.”

It’s a resilient mentality, Fede says, dating back to a loss to rival Bristol (R.I.) in the first game of the district tournament. After that, the club rebounded with seven consecutive hard-nosed victories to reach the state tournament. 

That came after last season’s devastating near miss in the district tournament, as Barrington defeated its rival via mercy rule, only to lose back-to-back games to Bristol to fall short of the state tournament. 

“Over the last three or four years, we went 4-4 against Bristol in our own district so when the season started, we were just trying to get out of districts,” Fede said. “Going to Williamsport was never a goal of mine. … Just getting back the banner in districts was great, and going to states was gravy.”

But now the team is in the LLWS, which takes place Aug. 15-25. Whether an 0-2 showing or a championship ensues in the Keystone State, Rhode Island is already flying high. 

“They’ve put in total commitment and given up summer vacations, pool parties with friends, to be out on the practice field in 100-degree days outside,” Promades said. “All the credit goes to them. They have given us memories that we will never, ever forget. I couldn’t be happier.”

Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or



Posted in The Bristol Press, General Sports on Sunday, 11 August 2019 17:37. Updated: Sunday, 11 August 2019 17:40.