CUMBERLAND (WPRI) — A rally for the record books – after losing to Portsmouth in the opening round of the Little League state tournament, Cumberland won four straight games becoming the first team since 2006 to advance to regionals from the loser’s bracket.
“It gives us a lot of confidence that, even if we go down, we can win games,” said third baseman and pitcher Ryan Amaral.
“I think that first loss to Portsmouth woke up a sleeping giant,” said manager Gary Lamora.
The motivation, a speech given by Gary Lamora referencing the Lion King.
“One day just dawned on me I think it was in the state tournament when I just started saying to them, hey, remember who you are,” said Lamora.
First, it was weird,” said Amaral with a smile. “But then we started embracing it more when we lost our first game.”
“We started laughing, but then we started taking it more serious and more serious and we finally understood like what the meaning of it,” said centerfielder and pitcher, Paxton Chenevert.
“Simba has been in the dugout with us during games and the guys all rub rub his head before we go to the to the field for a little good luck,” said Gary Lamora. “So it’s become a rallying cry. It’s kind of funny a little league baseball run around with the Simba doll but it works.”
The competition only gets tougher from here, with a chance of making it to WIlliamsport on the line.
It’s David versus Goliath right now,” said Gary Lamora. “Is what it really boils down to. With the restructuring, we move out of New England into the metro area. So we’re with Connecticut, New York, New Jersey.”
“It’s good for us because they’re bigger states,” said catcher Dylan Slack. “It’s gonna be harder. So it’s gonna be very good competition to see what we can do.”
“I’m thinking we can go in there and win it all,” said Chenevert. “We’re going to try to make it to the Little League World Series here.”
Cumberland takes on Fairfield American out of Connecticut to start the Metro Region tournament on Saturday in Bristol, Connecticut.