By Gianna Addario
---- — LYNN — All tournament long, Beverly Little League all-star manager Jim Cross has stressed to his team two simple words:
The slogan has become the team’s motto — and it came true in a big way during last night’s Section 4 tournament game at Reinfuss Field.
Down by six runs in the fourth inning, the Garden City kids furiously rallied and managed to score 10 runs in the final three innings to overcome Weston, 15-12.
Beverly, which went 2-1 in round robin play, moves on to tonight’s Sectional final against Peabody West (7:30 p.m.). The winner advances to next week’s Massachusetts Final Four Little League championships in West Roxbury.
“We’ve been a good hitting team,” said Beverly manager Jim Cross, whose team had its best game of the tournament at the plate last night. “There’s no real run differential that we can’t come back from. We’ve got guys that can hit the baseball, so I was just telling them to hang in there. I’m proud of them for not giving up.”
Weston, which finished the tournament 0-3, had an 8-2 lead in the bottom of the third inning, but Beverly never surrendered in hopes of making it to tonight championship game. Beverly got the hits when it needed to and its pitchers, Brayden Clark and Ryan Barror, came up huge in timely situations.
“Obviously in this tournament when you’re play three games in three days, pitching can become a problem at times,” explained Cross. “But Brayden has been one of our best pitchers all tournament, so we had the utmost confidence in him. He’s a competitor and isn’t going to give up. We kept him in there ... and he kept us in the game.”
Clark worked through four-plus innings, giving up nine hits while striking out four batters. He threw the maximum allowed 85 pitches, but also helped Beverly’s offensive comeback in the fourth inning with a leadoff triple.
Joey Ward followed that up with an RBI single and Johnny Gilbride extended Beverly’s hot hitting with a RBI double to cut Weston’s lead in half, 8-4. That’s when Ryan Munzing hit a deep shot to right field for two-run homer to keep Beverly’s hopes alive at 8-6.
“Munzing has been waiting for an opportunity to help the team. He finally got his chance and did it,” said Cross. “Some of these guys don’t always get a lot of playing time, but when they come in they really made an impact.”
Beverly continued to swing scorching bats as Colton Petrosino and Matt Collins each came up with hits to start the fifth. Jack Cairns knocked in Petrosino on single and Clark hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 8-8. Cairns then scored on an error as Beverly regained the lead for good.
The Orange-and-Black finished the night off with five hits in the sixth inning, including Clayton McCalpine’s two-run home run. Matt Cross reached base three times in the game, while Kyle Camara reached and scored once in the final frame.
Barror came in and struck out the first batter he faced to end the fifth inning. He walked one and struck out a pair of the sixth, despite Weston picking up four runs in the final frame.
“Ryan isn’t one of our regular pitchers,” Cross said. “At this particular point in the tournament, we need anybody who has an arm. He came in and really showed a lot of guts for us.”
With little time to rest, Beverly will try to avenge its only loss of round robin play to Peabody tonight. In case of rain, the game will be played tomorrow at 2 p.m.at Reinfuss Field in Lynn.
“We know Peabody’s a good team,” Cross said. “We know what we’re going to get with them: it’s going to be a battle. We’re just happy to at least have another chance at them. With one game, anything can happen.”