Warwick North hosted the fourth-annual Jaxon Marocco Tournament last week, and the team from Warwick Continental would top North Smithfield 9-8 to take home the championship on Saturday afternoon.
WCA battled through plenty of adversity in the tournament, including being handed an early loss, and falling behind by five runs in the first inning of the championship game.
However, the club would rebound in each situation and gut out the tough tournament win.
“Normally when a team falls behind big in a game, especially with 10, 11 and 12 year olds, they usually shut down. Their attitude was totally different so that was pretty cool,” said WCA coach Jim Maccarone.
Maccarone felt that his team’s mental toughness came from its belief in one another, as well as a team-first attitude.
“It was a couple of things. First, you need to have the right group of kids and we really lucked out with who we got, they were fantastic. One of the other things we told them is that, ‘you’re 12 years old, you’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to fail, it happens, but remember that the next guy behind you is going to pick you up.’ That’s how it goes, there is always someone on the team that is going to pick you up. When we told them that, I think it helped them loosen up, and when you play loose and with confidence, you play better,” said Maccarone.
The Jaxon Marocco Tournament honors the late Marocco, who passed away at just 22 months old from Niemann-Pick disease, Type A. Since then, his parents Mike and Toni, along with many others, established a foundation in his name that helps families with children suffering from illness.
This year’s tournament also recognized Bob Brodeur, a former WCA coach that passed away unexpectedly in May.
Maccarone and his team felt Brodeur’s presence throughout the tournament, especially in the final inning of the title-clinching game.
“It was the last inning and we were down to our last pitcher, and we had two runners on. (Assistant coach) Steve Hawes looked at me and said, ‘if the spirit of Bob Brodeur is going to come to help us, now is the time.’ Literally the next pitch was a pop fly to the pitcher who caught it and we won it all,” said Maccarone.
Maccarone was also happy to see the kids on his team be able to hit the field one last time this summer.
“The focus is so heavily on the 12 or 13 kids that makes these All-Star teams, so it’s great to have these tournaments and to see these kids that were passed on look forward to something,” said Maccarone. “We need kids playing baseball, we keep losing numbers, so these tournaments are huge.”
The players from the tournament winning WCA team include: Ethan Maccarone, Michael Rico, Skyler Hawes, Brady Motta, Ethan Erinakes, C.J. Bousquet, Danny Brown, Eric Johnson, Connor Ventura, Zach Labonte and Tony Deluca. Coaches included: Jim Maccarone, Steven Hawes and Glen Motta.