Johnston’s baseball future looks bright

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It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game.

That ageless adage, which has often been used regarding a specific sports team’s performance in a myriad of situations, could well be the theme for two Johnston Little League All-Star squads that recently sustained several special successes in two age level baseball tournaments.

In the case of the Johnston Little League’s Senior Division squad, the often-used slogan is more than appropriate for the team, which was managed by Gary Rianna and coached by Bob Civetti and Mike Castelli.

“On a sour note,” Rianna deadpanned upon the team’s return from the high-powered Eastern Regional Tournament in Thorofare, New Jersey. “We did not play close to the baseball that got us to this point. Therefore, as to be expected, the end results were not what we anticipated.”

Johnston lost its opening game vs. East Vineland, New Jersey, last Thursday night then dropped Saturday’s contest vs. Berlin, Maryland, and was eliminated from the 10-team double elimination tournament.

“These boys had an experience of a lifetime,” Rianna noted of the team’s stay in New Jersey. “Remember, some people said this team wouldn’t get out of the district tourney…and went on to win six straight games after an opening loss to win the state title.”

Although their stay was short in the Eastern Regionals, Rianna emphasized “they were treated like celebrities down there and enjoyed every minute of it. The atmosphere, the friendships, the memories will never be forgotten.”

“These boys are not only good baseball players,” Rianna went on. “But they are also respectful young men. When the tournament administrator compliments me on the sportsmanship of our players, or when an umpire makes it a point to tell me how classy our kids were during their games and even after a frustrating loss, that’s worth its weight in gold.”

Likewise, Rianna received many, many kudos on the overall operation of the Johnston All-Stars ranging from tourney officials to the general manager of the team’s hotel.

“The man pulled me aside and praised our kids for their behavior in the hotel,” Rianna related. “That’s when you know you have a group of winners.”

He then paused, before adding: “After we were eliminated from the (Regional) tourney, I told the kids to remember the most important thing. They played with class and character and that there are 3,000 teams in Little League Baseball’s Eastern Region, and at season’s end, Johnston, Rhode Island, is one of the top 10 teams.”

The Senior League State Champs are: Ryan Allen, Alex Rodriguez, Rudy Landin, Miguel Perez, Tyler Roche, Luke Vincent, Bobby Civetti, Matt Loffredo, Josh Tonucci, Eric O’Connor and Justin Salvatore.

As someone suggested upon the team’s return – and after another JLL squad put on prolific performances in the recent R.I. Little League 11/12-year-old state tournament: “Johnston’s baseball future looks very, very bright.”

Manager Bob Giudici’s squad defeated North Providence to open its tourney run, then dropped into the losers’ bracket after a loss to Cranston Western. Johnston then posted three straight wins vs. Silver Lake, Cranston East and North Providence West in that order and got into the bracket final but lost, 12-11, in a thrilling, extra-inning contest against Cranston Western.

“This is the same team that won the state 10-year-old title two year ago and played in the regional tourney,” a JLL official offered. “They are a group of friends who have now been together three years; the town’s baseball future is looking pretty good.”

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