“The city’s been behind us and we’ve had great support,” said Cross. “We’re just really happy to get started. We can’t wait.”
Peabody (5-0) has a staff ace in Nick Iannuzzi, who was the winning pitcher in his team’s first three District 16 games and threw to the 85-pitch limit in the championship win over Lynnfield. Dan Marshall earned Peabody West’s other victories while Jonathan Polignone also threw.
The Tanner City kids outscored their opponents 36-10 in District play. They didn’t hit a ton of homers, but found ways to score with clutch hits from Iannuzzi, Josh Cerretani, Dom Lewis, Christian Cummings and Josh Mulready.
Pitching depth could certainly be a big factor in the Section 4 tourney, as the winning team will have played four games in four days. Little League rules require four days of rest for a player throwing 66 or more pitches, three days for a pitcher tossing 51-65, two for a player throwing 36-50, one for a pitcher tossing 21-25 and no rest for a pitcher under 20 pitches in a given day.
“In any Little League tournament, pitch count is going to be big. Winning is the most important part — if you don’t win, then setting up pitching doesn’t do you any favors,” said Cross. “But, if you’re in a position to kind of maneuver some things and keep pitchers available, you have to think about it. Our first goal is still to win the games.”
North Andover East comes from District 14 with a 6-2 record and having outscored their opponents, 62-28. They toppled Andover National in their district’s championship series (a best 2-out-of-3), and with eight games under their belt they’re battle-tested. North Andover opens with Weston today (5:30 p.m.), then plays Beverly tomorrow and Peabody West on Friday.
“We’ve used eight pitchers. We’re expecting to play against some very good teams, and who knows what’s going to happen?” said North Andover East manager Rob Carpentier. “We feel good about our team going in and we’re ready to go.”