Barrington LL is reaching new heights
The Barrington Little League All-Stars did not initially know what winning a state championship meant after defeating Cranston Western, 10-7, late last month.
But they sure started understanding it as they prepared to leave for the New England Regional tournament a week later. Town council members and state legislators addressed both the team and fans who flooded the Barrington Little League field. The local police and fire departments then escorted the bus carrying the team from the field to the highway as fans cheered, held signs and honked horns.
This is something that does not happen often in Barrington. The state championship was the league’s first since 1975. It also was just the second in the program’s 61-year history. Now Barrington Little League has gone where no other before it has, reaching the Little League World Series and becoming one of the world’s top 16 teams.
Just imagine how the town will react when Barrington returns home.
“It is a Cinderella story. It’s a great group of kids and an entire team that works together. The coaches have been in the league for several years and are really good guys and the whole town is behind them,” Barrington Little League President Fletcher Thomson said. “This is really something that is great, not just for Barrington, but our district and state as well. It’s a Little League story, but it’s a community story as well. It’s a really great thing for the whole town and community.”
Barrington is the fifth Rhode Island team in six years that has reached the Series. Still, South Williamsport seemed like a destination for other Rhode Island teams, not Barrington. While Barrington and District 2 struggled to advance, powerhouses like Cranston Western, Cumberland, Warwick, Lincoln and Coventry combined for eight Series appearances since 1997.
That is what makes this run so special. It is Barrington’s turn in the spotlight now. This team lost its first district tournament game, but never stopped believing or fighting and broke through every wall that had stood in the league’s path the previous 44 years.
Had Barrington not won a regional game, fans still would have been happy. That it has put the league and the town on the international stage has made this team a group of rock stars back home.
“I’ve lived in Barrington my whole life. This is a first for the town of Barrington and we couldn’t be any more proud to be from the town and to represent the state of Rhode Island,” manager Chris Promades, who once played in the league, said. “The fans have been awesome and when we left for Bristol, the sendoff we had was awesome. It was a great sight.”
Fans would agree that watching this team play has offered a similar sight. Barrington captured a state championship as 10-year-olds two years ago, so there was excitement entering the postseason. That initial district loss might have dampened expectations, but Barrington went 13-1 following that defeat en route to reaching the Series.
The way Barrington has won has endeared itself to its community and state even more. This is not a team of superstars. Barrington did not hit a home run at regionals, but all 13 players made big impacts. Alex Anderson and Owen Pfeffer threw complete games in the semifinals and the finals. The 6-2 championship win against New Hampshire perfectly symbolized who this team is. Barrington trailed by a run in the fourth inning, but three reserves sparked a four-run rally and the defense turned two double plays as it won, 6-4.
Barrington might not blow away teams with prolific home runs or 75 mph pitches, but it is a relentless group. The New England champions forced New Hampshire ace Adam Lafond out by the fourth inning, patiently working counts and fouling off two-strike pitches. By game’s end, New Hampshire threw more than 120 pitches. Chase Watts beat out an infield single to spark the fourth-inning rally, Blake Dolan made a spectacular play at third base and Barrington again did all the little things that have created one big historic achievement.
“We grind out at-bats. Even when we’re striking out we’re forcing the pitcher to work. If you go down, you don’t go down without a fight and that’s what we tell our kids,” Promades said. “They never quit and they have that never-say-die mentality in every aspect of the game. They’ve demonstrated that resolve in every game and I couldn’t ask for more.”
Neither could the town. This is not just something which is creating excitement now, but that can only help the league moving forward. Young players likely will be inspired and players who are deciding between travel ball or Little League might be swayed to play Little League. This team’s legacy will always be reaching the Series, but another aspect of it is showing future players what is possible through hard work and unselfishness. These Barrington Little Leaguers are both champions and trail blazers.
“When they look back at this, whether they had reached the Little League World Series or not, they should be proud because Barrington is proud of them for what they’ve accomplished,” Thomson said. “The entire level of support for the league and these kids throughout the town and state is well deserved.”
“They have raised the bar for the league and the interest that kids have for baseball. Hopefully that will do a lot for the the game of baseball in Barrington and help grow the sport in Barrington,” Promades said. “I love it. This is a really great time for Barrington.”