WEST WARWICK — No one knew it at the time, but a 4-4 tie between Chariho and Narragansett/South Kingstown on July 14 was a sign of things to come for the Rhode Island Connie Mack League playoffs.
Seeded sixth and eighth, respectively, Chariho and Narragansett/SK have both caught fire in the postseason and are meeting this week in the state championship series at McCarthy Field.
As expected, they’ve been evenly matched, splitting two tight games in the best-of-three set. Chariho won the series opener 7-6 on Monday before Narragansett/SK stayed alive with a 6-4 victory on Tuesday.
The decisive third game is slated for Wednesday night.
“You look at the two teams position by position, and I like my team,” Chariho manager Cal Carpenter said. “But those guys just play so hard. They never quit. I don’t know that there’s any lead I would feel safe with. We’re going to have to play our best in Game 3.”
Narragansett/SK has showcased that identity throughout the season. In the July 14 game with Chariho, the team scored four runs in its last at-bat to force the tie. In the playoffs, Narragansett has lost the first game of each of its series before rallying. That path led to a first-round win over Westerly, a semifinal victory over Flood Auto and now the chance to win the state title.
“That’s really been it — just playing hard every inning and scraping by,” Narragansett coach Paul Rodman said. “Even in the regular season, I don’t think we got blown out other than one game against Slocum. Every game, we just scrapped. These guys battle. They’re gutsy; they’re gritty. They’re a great group of young men.”
Chariho won the series opener in dramatic fashion. After taking a 6-1 lead in the fourth inning, Chariho saw Narragansett answer with five runs in the sixth. Chariho broke the tie in the bottom of the seventh for a walk-off win. With the bases loaded, Narragansett recorded an out at home on a slow roller. The throw to first base for a possible double play got away, allowing Brendan McGovern to score the winning run.
Narragansett started Game 2 with a bang, getting two runs on four hits in the first inning. Gavin Rodman, Tyler Poirier and Colin Masseur singled. Patrick Ruhle plated one run with a sacrifice fly, and Nolan Rodman knocked in another with a base hit.
Chariho starter John Pellegrino settled down, then helped himself in the third inning when he cranked a solo home run over the center-field fence. The tying run scored on a base hit by Liam Flynn and an ensuing error.
Narragansett starter Brendan Flaherty didn’t allow another run until the seventh, following up a must-win performance in Game 2 of the semifinals with another strong showing. He struck out five and scattered eight hits.
“Brendan has really been the ace of the team,” Rodman said. “When we needed a win, he did it against Westerly, he did it against Flood and he did it tonight.”
Narragansett broke the deadlock with four runs in the fifth inning. Ryan Camp singled, Declan Wholey doubled and Jimmy Robbin brought in the go-ahead run with an RBI groundout. RBI singles by Ben Paskalides and Masseur made it 6-2.
Chariho tried to rally in the seventh. McGovern walked and Jack Stevens doubled. An RBI groundout by Pellegrino made it 6-3 and chased Flaherty. Robbin came on in relief and was greeted by an RBI single from Liam Goldstein that made it 6-4. But the rally stopped there.
“Looking at the scorebook, we had more hits than I thought, but overall, the hitting was disappointing,” Carpenter said. “We didn’t get the big hits tonight and that’s not like us. We’ve got to put together better at-bats tonight. The fielding was solid. Johnny pitched a decent game. I think we just didn’t hit enough. There were opportunities to score some more runs, but give them credit. They made some plays and their pitcher got out of trouble a few times.”
Chariho is seeking its first-ever Connie Mack state title. Narragansett/SK is aiming to win the crown for the first time since 2018.
“They play hard, they hit the ball, they’re just as gritty and tough as we are,” Rodman said. “It’s going to be a game.”