RBI stars heading to World Series

RBI stars heading to World Series

PAWTUCKET - "It was the most exciting game I've ever been part of," said Matt Bergeron, the head coach of the RBI All Star baseball team from the Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket, "It's surreal to see that happen."

In a dramatic finish, the all-stars from the Pawtucket club clinched a trip to the RBI World Series in Minnesota in walk-off fashion Saturday, defeating Jackie Robinson Jersey City, N.J., 13-12, to take the Northeast Regional Tournament championship on a three-run homer by Nate Gagnon.

After breezing past their first four tournament opponents in New York, the RBI all-stars from Pawtucket faced their first real challenge, being down by six runs in the bottom of the seventh at the championship game.

The last two teams standing were Pawtucket and Jackie Robinson Jersey City. Pawtucket scored six runs through the first three innings, but their bats ran cold in the next three while Jersey City passed them. In the bottom of the seventh, Pawtucket was down 12-6. Bergeron said that they pulled the players in and told them to believe in themselves and to never give up.

Dylan Boisclair started things off in the seventh for Pawtucket, reaching on an error and moving to second on a single by Ricky Bourdeau. Nick Souza was hit by a pitch to load the bases with a patient Brett Gaudreau behind him in the lineup. Gaudreau earned an RBI-walk to get one run back.

After a strikeout, Steven Otis drove in Bourdeau with a single as the Pawtucket bats started to heat up again. David Mejia was able to plate two more runs with his base hit to right, putting the score at 12-10. With two ducks on the pond, Gagnon stepped in.

On a 2-1 count Gagnon hit a fastball over the right center fence for the three-run home run and the walk-off victory, Bergeron said. The home run gave Pawtucket the victory, but their pitching put them in contention.

Mejia started the game pitching three innings while Otis pitched three and two-thirds. The biggest out and key play came from Souza, who pitched just a third of an inning. Bergeron said he came in with the bases loaded and two outs. With one pitch, he induced a 4-3 ground out to end the inning against a batter who had already doubled twice and singled.

"The biggest thing was they never gave up, and played till the last out," Bergeron said. "They stayed committed and in the end it was a great result. I give credit to the guys for not packing it in. And Gagnon had the key walk-off home run."

Rewind to the beginning of the tournament as Pawtucket arrived in New York after only having four practices.

"Overall it was a great trip," Pawtucket RBI coach Luke McLaughlin said. "The kids got to bond. And even though they had four practices together, they played like a real team. There was no one standout but a total team effort."

The 14 players and coaches were part of five games in New York from Wednesday, July 10, to Saturday, July 13. The players were chosen from each RBI team in the Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket league. Ten of those players reside in Pawtucket while two are from East Providence, one is from Cumberland and another is from Attleboro. Four of those players also play on the Pineview Big League team and had to fly out after the game to Delaware to participate in that tournament. There are also two players from Legion ball and two from Connie Mack.

Before the 12 runs they gave up in the championship game, Pawtucket's pitching had only allowed one run in the previous four games, shutting out three of their opponents. They defeated Boston first, giving up one run behind Mejia. Souza started and won against Providence RBI while Ryan Depatie got the win over Harlem RBI. Otis was on the mound for their win over the Greater New York Sandlot Athletic Association to advance to the final.

"We had a very favorable draw," Bergeron said. "We told the guys to go out and play like it is 0-0 and to never assume. Fortunately, we had very good pitching with one run over the first four games."

The Pawtucket RBI team will have an all-expenses paid trip to Minnesota for the RBI World Series held at Target Field Aug. 3-9. Everything is paid for by Major League Baseball and there will be seven other teams from the seven other tournaments held throughout the country.

The last time the Pawtucket RBI made it to the World Series under Bergeron was in 2006, when it was held in California. They finished second, losing to Detroit.

"The kids are excited and looking forward to seeing a Major League atmosphere," Bergeron said. "During this trip, these kids will experience baseball at a high level outside of Rhode Island. It's an experience these kids will never forget. That's what this is all about, the relationships kids develop through baseball."

Both Bergeron and McLaughlin thank the Pawtucket Red Sox, who provided them with uniforms, Flagship Trailways, which donated a coach bus for them to travel in, and the Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket.

"We want to thank the Boys & Girls Club staff, specifically Amy Garvell, Kate Hesse, Jim Hoyt and Harris Nachbar," they said. "They helped organize and support us as well as all the other staff."

The Pawtucket RBI all-stars are Alex Lopez, Ryan McGahern, Ricky Bourdeau, Dylan Boisclair, Nick Souza, Steven Otis, Jonathan Vadnais, David Mejia, Jeremy Medina, John Costa, Ryan Depatie, Nate Gagnon, Jordan Gibson and Brett Gaudreau.