LYNN — Peabody West didn’t accomplish its goal of going through the round robin portion of the Williamsport Little League Sectional unbeaten.
But despite last night’s 3-2 loss to North Andover East at Reinfuss Field, the Tanner City kids already knew they had reached tonight’s Section 4 championship game before the second game, Beverly vs. Weston, had even begun.
Now 2-1 in tournament play, Peabody West has allowed just nine runs in 20 innings of sectional play thus far, the best percentage of the four teams.
“We’re either the No. 1 or 2 seed (tonight) ... it really doesn’t matter which, because we’re in the championship game,” West manager Frank Benea said.
North Andover East (2-1) won the game in the bottom of the sixth and final inning by scoring two runs.
Peabody West scored both of its runs in the top of the first when Nick Iannuzzi hit a two-run homer over the fence in center field, scoring Jonathan Polignone (who had singled) ahead of him. North Andover East answered with a run in the bottom of the inning when Connor Gough led off with a single and Steven Hajjar doubled him in.
The score remained 2-1 through the next four-and-a-half innings. Chris Kwmuntis came on in relief of Peabody West starter Dan Marshall in the second inning and did a great job. Marshall was strategically removed at 20 pitches so he will be eligible for today’s title tilt if needed.
Kwmuntis didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning, when opposing pitcher Jake McElroy led off with a single. Left fielder Christian Cummings made a great diving catch to rob Hajjar of extra bases, with McElroy advancing to second base on the play and later to third on a passed ball. After Joe Quinlan grounded out, North Andover East’s Joe Phinney had two strikes on him when he hit a grounder to second base. The ball took a funny bounce, allowing McElroy to race home with the tying run.