96-H 9352

Passed in House

Aug. 21, 1996.


WHEREAS, For one week each year, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, becomes the baseball mecca for Little Leaguers throughout the world as the dreams of hundreds of eleven and twelve years olds focus upon the play of the eight surviving teams of this worldwide competition. Only twice in Rhode Island history has a local team made it to this elite level of competition. Now there are three; and

WHEREAS, Joining Westerly (1950) and the Darlington Americans (1980) in this exclusive pantheon of Little League World Series participants from the Ocean State are the talented and determined players of the Cranston Western team. After battling their way through the Rhode Island District and State playoffs, followed by rugged Regional competition, the teal and white-clad athletes from Cranston Western have time and again proven themselves worthy of playing at the very pinnacle of their sport; and

WHEREAS, Displaying their determination and prowess early on, Cranston Western dispatched their First Round opponent in the District Championships, South Providence-Washington Park, by an overwhelming 12-0 score. Their second opponent, Elmwood, was also handily defeated as Cranston Western rolled to an easy 13-3 victory. Third Round opponent would prove to be an entirely different story; and

WHEREAS, Barely squeaking by Edgewood-South Elmwood by a 3-2 margin, Cranston Western went on to crush their Fourth Round adversary, Cranston American, 10-0. Only one victory away from the District title, Cranston Western needed to, once again, defeat their nemesis, Edgewood-South Elmwood. A nail-biter from start to finish, Cranston Western prevailed in the contest by the slimmest of margins, 2-1, to advance to the State Championship; and

WHEREAS, After narrowly beating Lincoln 3-2 in 10 innings, Cranston Western endured its first setback in the playoffs, a 12-3 defeat at the hands of South Kingstown, placing them in the losers' bracket of the competition. Eager to redeem themselves, the determined athletes from Cranston Western blanked Lincoln 10-0 and twice avenged themselves against South Kinstown by scores of 2-1 and 6-2 to claim the Rhode Island Little League Championship and a place in the Regional Playoffs; and

WHEREAS, In the first contest in the Eastern Regional Championship at the Giamatti Little League Center in Bristol, Connecticut, Cranston Western trotted home a pair of runs in the fourth and fifth innings and bounced New Jersey's Millburn-Short Hills into the losers' bracket by a 4-1 final score. Western accomplished this feat at scorching hot Breen Field through a combination of clutch defense, timely hitting and a superb four hit outing from hard-throwing right-hander Brett Bell. Next on the road to Williamsport, Brandywine, the Delaware champion; and

WHEREAS, Against Brandywine, Cranston Western played its usual all-round strong game and prevailed by an 8-3 tally, thus moving further along in the double-elimination tournament than any team from Rhode Island since the Darlington Americans, who won the Eastern Regional en route to the Little League World Series. The next obstacle to matching that feat was the team from Massachusetts which had just beaten its New Hampshire opponent by a lop-sided 10-0; and

WHEREAS, Cranston Western took a giant step on the road to Williamsport as it crushed the highly-touted Parkway National team from the Bay State. Taking its cue from Brett Bell's complete game performance that held Parkway to but a single run, Western's offense generated three runs in the third inning and sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth to score an additional fur runs and cement the 7-1 victory. Prior to running into the Ocean State buzzsaw, Parkway had had things pretty much their own way by not allowing more than three runs to be scored against them in either the Massachusetts District or State Championship series; and

WHEREAS, Victory came harder in Western's next contest against the South Shore Americans from New York. It took Tom Michael's gigantic home run over the center field scoreboard in the bottom of the ninth inning to put Cranston Western within one victory of a trip to the World Series in the double-elimination tournament; and

WHEREAS, The Cranston Western juggernaut suffered a setback in its next outing, failing to find an answer to the superb play of the team from Franklin, Pennsylvania, losing to the representatives from the Keystone State by a score of 9-7. The entire season and a climatic trip to Williamsport would rest on the outcome of the Cranston-Franklin rematch. And what a game it proved to be. Fans will never forget Tom Michael's continued great pitching, Paul Tavarozzi's miraculous diving catch in the bottom of the sixth to send the game into extra innings and, finally, Craig Stinson's clutch tie-breaking homer in the top of the seventh inning that propelled Cranston Western into the Little League World Series by a 4-1 score; and

WHEREAS, Preparing to face its First Round opponent, the Western Regional champs from Moorpark, California, Cranston Western entered the contest as the proud standard bearers for the Little Leaguers of 11 states in the East Region. Playing with the assured confidence of true champions, Western's determined athletes prevailed by a 5-1 score. Brett Bell not only pitched his usual magnificent game, but also contributed to the socring with a towering home run. Scoring three runs in the opening stanza and two more in the third, Western dominated their west coast adversaries from start to finish; and

WHEREAS, Although a Cranston Western rally against Panama City, Florida, fell short in the next round, the scrappy team from Rhode Island remains in the hunt for a spot in the United States Championship game. When the South champ defeated the West representative, and did so by scoring more runs than they had against Cranston Western, Rhode Island's favorite sons had once again survived to find themselves in the National Championship contest; and

WHEREAS, In the National Championship game, Cranston West displayed all of the sterling qualities that had gotten them to Williamsport. Behind the superb pitching of Brett Bell, who struck out eight batters while only walking two, combined with Craig Stinson's home run, timely hitting, strong team defense and astute base running, Cranston avenged their earlier setback and vanquished the previously undefeated boys from the South by a 6-3 final. Ahead lay Taiwan and its awesome talent and discipline; and

WHEREAS, Although West stayed with the Far East champs for several hard fought innings, executing a magnificent double play that cut down runners at the plate and at third base, in the end it just was not meant to be. And while Cranston West may not be the World Champions, they proved once again that they possess the heart of a champion. Win or lose, they mean the world to us; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That this House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations hereby honors the coaches and players of Cranston Western: Head Coach Michael Varrato, Assistant Coaches Nick DiNezza and Larry Lepore, players Lucus Ashton, Jacob Bazirgan, Brett Bell, Evan DiZoglio, Christopher Gallo, Matthew Lovejoy, Michael Luke, Tom Michael, Peter Spinelli, Craig Stinson, Paul Tavarozzi, Lewis Colby, Jonathan Sparling and Ricky Stoddard for their wonderful success in this truly historic season. Their inspired play is a remainder to us all of what a beautiful thing sport can be. May all involved in this glorious championship season, including the loving and supporting parents of these great players, enjoy this summer's warm glow of accomplishment for many years to come; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he hereby is authorized and directed to transmit duly certified copies of this resolution to Little League President Eugene V. Mollicone and Cranston Western Head Coach Michael Varrato.

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