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PAWTUCKET --- At no point in its 13-5 defeat to Barrington on Monday night at Slater Park did Darlington American ever think the game was over, or even out of reach.
Barrington scored three runs on seven hits in the first inning, but DALL responded the very next frame with two of their own to make it a one-run game.
In the bottom of the second, Barrington added three more, but again, Darlington American responded with a run of its own in the top of the third to make it a 6-3 contest.
But the floodgates opened up, and Barrington scored six runs in the bottom half of the fourth inning that included three doubles and two home runs and paved the way to a 13-5 victory that gave Barrington the District II championship.
It was in that inning that Darlington American proved itself worthy of playing in a district championship game.
They were down nine runs and Barrington had a runner on second base. Because of the mercy rule, if the home team, Barrington, plated one more run, the game would have been over.
But Darlington American would not roll over and let the game end early. Pitcher Brendan Aldridge struck out the final batter to end the inning and the game went on.
A lot of that resolve and willingness to keep going might have had something to do with a story coach Keven Dunphy told his team back when the tournament first started back on June 15.
The story starts with two frogs having fallen into a vat of cream. The first frog quit and died instantly. The second frog was different. The second frog was either going to live on or die trying. He swam around with all he had and was determined to leave that vat of cream. The second frog ended up swimming and kicking around so hard that the cream became butter and the frog was able to climb out.
âWe built upon that this year,â Dunphy said. âOur motto was âNever give up. Never stop fighting. Always keep trying.â They showed it today. They could have easily packed it in.â
âHats off to them,â Barrington coach Ray Studley said. âThey were a great team to represent District II, as well as us.â
Darlington American had one big chance to cause Barrington some discomfort, but they failed to capitalize on it.
After holding Barrington to no runs in the bottom of the third inning, Darlington American had a chance to narrow the 6-3 lead in the top of the fourth.
Ryan Carrion led things off with a single to left field and Jeremy Knox hit a grounder to the second baseman that allowed Carrion to reach second base. Nick Crawley then grounded out, but again, Carrion advanced, and another runner was on third base with two outs.
But James Coleman then hit a hard ground ball to the third baseman, who fielded it cleanly and threw it to first base for the final out of the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Barringtonâs six runs put the game away.
Barrington was always a step ahead, and every time Darlington American tried to get back into the game, Barrington added critical runs in order to maintain a solid lead.
As hard as Darlington American tried, it simply did not have an answer for Barringtonâs run-generation in this championship game.
A key component of Barringtonâs hitting surge last night was their first baseman, Matt Hurley. On the night, Hurley was 3-for-4 with a double and two home runs. Even in his first at-bat when he was retired, he hit a blast to the left fielder. All night, Hurley was making solid contact with the ball and generating power with his swing.
âThey hit the ball extremely well today and I give them credit,â coach Studley said of his players.
Barrington will play Burrillville, a 1-0 winner over Lincoln in their District IV title game, in the opener of the state tournament on Saturday at 1:45 p.m. at Hien Field in Lincoln.