There are 16 Little League Williamsport all-star teams left in Massachusetts, dreaming about representing their state at New England Regionals in Connecticut.
By the end of the weekend, it’ll be down to the final four.
The Section 4 tournament begins tonight at Wyoma in Lynn with Peabody West, Beverly, North Andover East and Weston playing a round-robin slate of games at Reinfuss Field over the next three days. The two teams with the best records will play for the sectional title, and a spot in the state finals in Roxbury next week, in a winner-take-all game Saturday.
For North Shore fans, the marquee matchup is tonight’s showdown between District 15 champion Beverly and District 16 titlist Peabody West (7:45). A perennial power, Peabody won six straight Section 4 crowns from 2006-11; Beverly hasn’t been this far since 1993, but the programs are familiar with each other since Peabody West played in District 15 up until 2010.
“We haven’t seen them this year, but we’ve seen them in the Districts in the past and they’re always good. They’re the staple in the area and we know we’ll have our hands full,” Beverly manager Jim Cross said of Peabody. “We’re keeping the kids loose. It’s another baseball game, they know what they’re supposed to do and how they’re capable of playing.”
Beverly plays North Andover East tomorrow and Weston on Friday. The Orange-and-Black youngsters enter sectional play with a 7-1 record and the best run-differential of any of the four clubs with an aggregate score of 87-27.
Power hitters in the middle like Ryan Barror and Matt Cross give the Beverly lineup plenty of pop. The team also has a fair amount of pitching depth: Jon Gilbride, Joe Ward, Brayden Clark and Kyle Camara are all capable of throwing.