By Matt Williams
---- — Area baseball fans will have twice as many games to get them through the dog days of August, beginning tonight.
One of the North Shore’s summer traditions celebrates 30 years as the annual Ray Gallant Baseball tournament starts in Salem tonight. Over the bridge, Beverly Little League is starting a tradition of its own as the first Panther Little League Invitational begins at Harry Ball Field, also tonight.
Both tournaments feature five teams and a double-elimination format to be continued over the weekend with the finals slated for next Tuesday and Wednesday if necessary.
The Gallant, which is named for Ray Gallant, a Salem Little League coach who died at a young age, is hosted at Stephen O’Grady Field at Forest River Park and will be played with wood bats for the first time this year.
The tournament begins tonight with rivals Marblehead and Swampscott playing at 7. Lynn and Wakefield will play at 5:30 on Friday followed by Peabody against Salem at 7:30; Amesbury received a first round bye via blind draw.
Marblehead, the only local community that doesn’t formally play in Little League baseball (ie the district all-star tournaments) is a two-time defending champ in the Gallant Tournament. Lynn and Wakefield are new additions to the field after Beverly and Danvers opted for the Panther Invitational, and Peabody is actually fielding teams in both tournaments.
The Gallant tournament rosters are as follows: Salem: Lesandro Pacheco, Billy Beaureguard, Andrew Fournier, Aaron Fournier, Kyle Oullette, Bryan Palacios, Bryan Pena, Matthew Silva, Ruben Baez, Jayco Pena, Jhoan Vago, Jack Gilligan; Manager, Sean O’Keefe and coaches Steve Oulette, Jeff lajoe and Frank Baez.
Marblehead: Eli Cohen, Ryan Dombal, Chris Gally, Joey Feracci, Jake Granata, Jake Miller, Jacob Bornstein, Charles Ahern, Charlie Khan, Noah Dorsey-Sorofman, Max Freedman, Michael McEachern; Manager Greg Dombal and coaches Joe Kahn, Mark Cohen and Keith Gally.
Swampscott: Drew Olivieri, Grahm Inzana, Ryan Graciale, Dylan January, Connor Tidd, Owen McGuire, Owen Nuegent, Jake McIntire, Christian Emmerich, Anthony Rakauskas, Chris Legere. Manager Lou Olivieri and coach Derek January.
Peabody: Wil Aylward, Christian Buckley, Eddie Campbell, Sean Cardello, Christian Cummings, Nick Federico, Michael Johns, Michael Panzini, Joe Richard, Chris Ruggiero, Tyler Wallace. Manager John Federico and coaches Ed Campbell, Adam Buckley, Steve Johns and Garrett Wallace.
Amesbury: Derek Beaupre, Shane O’Leary, Blake Bennett, Joe Ward, Derek Doherty, Patrick Birmingham, Thomas Flanagan, Logan Burrill, Casey Mcclaren, Dane Webber, Will Connolly, Peyton O’leary, Matt Nardone; Manager Fran Beaupre and coaches Jim O’Leary and Tim Randall.
Lynn: David Barnard, Brett Bucklin, Christian Burt, Spencer DiVirgilio, Zachary Elwell, Anthony Luciano, James Wilkins, Mike Leavitt, Aadan Lydon, Lou Vidal, Ethan Labbe, Daniel Lilja, Luke Boisselle, Kevin Durant; Manager Jeff Earp and coaches Leon Elwe,, Sean Lydon and Bryan Wilkins.
Wakefield: Nick Lamberti, Jake Regan, Colin Jaena, Eric Hickey, Anthony Forziati, Brian Chambers, Kevin DeLeary, Jake Nardone, Dan Cataldo, Luke Di Mella, Joe Greenwood, Josiah Brown, Kevin Lucey; Manager Aldo Lamberti and coaches Carl Jaena, Mike Nardone and Bill DeLeary.
Over in Beverly, the action begins today when Manchester Essex takes on Peabody at 5:30, followed by Beverly against Danvers at 7:30. Gloucester received the bye in that five-team field, and will play as the tournament continues tomorrow.