NPROV Sal Piccirillo cuts grass

North Providence Little League president Sal Piccirillo, shown cutting the infield grass before a game last summer at Romano Field, will be hard at work during the offseason helping his league prepare to host next summer’s ages 11-12 state tournament.

NORTH PROVIDENCE – If the defending state champion North Providence Little League’s ages 11-12 all-star baseball team manages to repeat as the District I’s Major Division champions and return to the R.I.’s “Final Four” next summer, they will do so in the friendly confines of Romano Field.

NPLL president Sal Piccirillo received the good news last Tuesday, Nov. 9, from District I commissioner John Pesaturo, that for the first time since 1993, North Providence will host the ages 11-12’s state tournament at the end of next July, and the longtime leader of the town’s Little League is thrilled with the outstanding opportunity that was presented to his organization.

“It’s funny that we played in it this year, and next year, we’re going to host it,” Piccirillo noted last Wednesday afternoon. “And who knows if we’ll play in it again? Just to host it is going to be a humongous task, but it’s going to be well worth it. It’s very big for the town and it’s going to be an exciting time.”

For the past three decades, every four years, each of the state’s four districts gets its chance to host the popular tourney. But in the 1980s, Romano Field had hosted it on four occasions (1981, ’85, ’86, and ’89), and during the first 11 years of the state tournament (1957-67), North Providence was the host five times.

In five of the last six occasions that the District I hosted the event, Cranston Western served as the host, but in 2015, North Providence served as the host of the ages 9-10 state tourney and received high praise from the ballclubs and their families and fans for the league’s red-carpet treatment and five-star performance.

“That was basically a test run to see if we could handle the state tournament,” recalled Piccirillo, whose all-star team not only won the town’s first state title last summer, but also the first district title since 2006. “We passed that, and all our hard work paid off.”

While Piccirillo kept the notes he took from organizing that tournament, he also took some mental ones at last year’s state tournament at the Cumberland Youth Baseball/Softball League’s Garvin Field, which saw the league, led by president Michael Colucci, vice president Gary Lamora, and player agent Ed Rigano, impress Piccirillo with its hard work.

“It was a good thing playing in it this year to see how Cumberland did it, especially with how their president ran it,” added Piccirillo. “They obviously did a great job.”

Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, “we couldn’t experience everything (at the tournament),” added Piccirillo, “but we’re hoping to bring back the stuff that we couldn’t do last year, such as the Friday fun night with the cookout with all four teams.”

Bringing back the cookout is on Piccirillo’s to-do list, and even though the tournament is eight months away, he’s kept the wheels in motion in his quest to put on a first-class event.

“I’m going to be meeting with the Mayor and John soon to go over a few things,” he noted. “We know we need to do a paint job here and there and little things like that, and we might do something with the parking lot.”

“We’ll have a bunch of meetings with volunteers before then, but we’ll be ready,” he continued, “and when the time comes, we’re going to hopefully put on a great tournament so the four teams that are coming in will never forget the experience.”

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