WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (WPRI) – The boys from Warwick North are gearing up for their Little League World Series debut in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
The team, managed by Ken Rix, arrived in Pennsylvania on Sunday after winning the New England regional tournament in Bristol, Connecticut.
“There were a lot of arrangements and stuff to be made after the championship game,” Rix said. “It’s not as simple as, you know, winning the championship and driving up there.“
According to Rix, the team boarded a bus to Pennsylvania early Sunday morning following their win on Saturday afternoon. The team punched their ticket to the World Series with a 5-1 win over Fairfield American.
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Warwick North traveled to Williamsport with the Mid-Atlantic Team from New York, Rix said, which happens to be their first-round opponent.
“Our kids became good friends with those guys,” Rix said. “It was a fun ride down for the kids.”
Security is tight at the World Series, Rix said. His team had to go through various security checks and medical screenings when they first landed in Pennsylvania.
And from there, it’s been non-stop for the Warwick boys.
“The companies here at the World Series are very good to the kids. The Easton Company fitted all the kids with new gloves,” he said. “Cleats, helmets, batting gloves – Rawlings has delivered all the uniforms and sporting clothes. Oakley gave the kids all sunglasses.”
On top of all the new swag the team received, they also got a professional baseball workout Monday morning at the Baseball Factory.
“They treat you very well here,” Rix said. “It’s really a first-class operation down here.”
The Warwick boys, who are now representing New England, were able to practice Monday, Rix said. He’s now hoping his team can get comfortable on the national stage and just play the game.
“I’m hoping it’s just a baseball game. That’s what we’ve tried to tell them from day one. We’re not going to treat this game any different,” he said. “But they know it’s different. “
Rix, who said he’s never been to Williamsport before, compared the experience to Disney World.
“It is the most amazing place,” he told Eyewitness News. “The fields are pristine, the facilities are pristine. It’s just a great place to see and visit. Everybody should see this place one time in their life. It’s an incredible thing because it’s all geared toward kids.”
This is the third straight year a Rhode Island team has clinched a spot in the Little League World Series. Last year, the boys of Cranston Western were knocked out by California. The year before, Cumberland made a run until they were eliminated by Chicago.
Rix said his team is confident going into the tournament.
“We’re going to compete no matter who we face. Our kids are resilient, we don’t get down,” he said. “The kids will keep fighting.”
According to the coach, New York is a very good team with a lot of pitching depth and good hitters. He said his team is hoping for “timely hitting” and strong pitching with limited walks.
Rix said the team will participate in the World Series parade on Wednesday before the opening ceremonies on Thursday.
New England will play their first game against Mid-Atlantic Thursday afternoon – and Rix said the team is looking for victory.
“We’ve come here to win,” he said. “We didn’t come here just to have the experience – we worked hard all year. We’ve won some really tough games and we’ve beat some really tough teams. So we don’t see why we can’t beat someone here.”