WILLIAMSPORT, Penn. (WPRI) — The boys from Cranston Western Little League lost their first Little League World Series game on Friday.
The Rhode Islanders fell 7-1 to South Carolina, whose pitcher held on to a no-hitter throughout the game.
Before the game Friday, the players and parents from Rhode Island were taking in all of the excitement at the tournament.
“We’re taking it all in. I mean it’s still kind of a little numbing to be here and watching all of this stuff, 10,000 people watching a game. Just looking forward to watching the team out there at 5:00,” said David Bogosian.
The boys have not been home since leaving for the regional tournament in Bristol, Connecticut.
“Yeah two weeks. My son misses his bed. But besides that, they’re having the time of their lives,” said Greg Bender.
Cranston Western is the third Rhode Island team in five years to represent New England in Williamsport. Dave Belisle, head coach of last year’s Cumberland American team, will be a guest announcer for ESPN during the tournament.
“It’s been a splendid experience to come back here and be a part of it again. I know I’m not coaching, but I feel like I am. It’s getting me as close as I can to the experience that I had last year and I’m really enjoying myself and so is my son,” Belisle said Friday.
Belisle said the decision to take the job at the tournament didn’t come easy – because of the death of his wife, Nancy, who passed in February from cancer.
“I was hesitant at first because of what I was going through back at home with my wife, but after thinking about it and knowing Johnny wanted to come back, my son, who experienced it last year,” he said.
Belisle rose to the national spotlight last year after he gave his Cumberland team an inspirational speech.
“Rhode Island is a special, special place and the memories that you saw in that speech, a lot of it has to do with where I grew up and the memories that I have associated with sports from Rhode Island.”
Rhode Island was also represented in the Little League Softball World Series by Warwick North, who lost a heartbreaker to North Carolina in the finals on Wednesday.
Cranston Western previously played in the Little League World Series in 1996. That team won the U.S. championship, but fell to Chinese Taipai in the international finals.
Supporters of the team this time around say they are proud of the boys no matter what happens.
“They’re an amazing group of kids. Win or lose, we are thrilled. They are great kids and they are fantastic. Can’t say enough about them,” said Lisa Harris.
The boys from Cranston will take the field again Saturday.