By Dan Harrison
---- — The Hamilton-Wenham Little League Williamsport All-Star team believes it has some advantages going into the District 15 tournament this summer, not the least of which will be depth on the mound.
H-W boasts four more than capable starters in 12-year-olds Adam Parady, Cameron Peach, Jack Cronin and Phillip Durgin while 12-year-olds Paul Horgan, Mark Roselli and 11-year-old Will Jones give the squad a very versatile pitching staff.
“Pitching should be strength of ours especially the depth of our pitching staff,” explained head coach Bill Peach. “The way the tournament unfolds, there’s a lot of games in a short amount of days so you’re going to need that. You can’t just ride one guy, you have to have some depth.”
Peach is well aware the impact strong pitching can have in the District 15 tournament and likewise, what it means for teams without dominant performers on the bump.
“If you don’t have it, you have no shot,” Peach said of strong starting pitching. “It’s probably the most critical thing in the tournament.”
H-W’s depth isn’t limited to its fireballers. This year’s squad is in bulk supply when it comes to powerful hitters capable of leaving the yard on any given swing. Aidan Heney led all H-W Little Leaguers this spring with 10 homers while Peach, Cronin, Parady, Durgin, and Pierson Tocci are all serious longball threats.
That doesn’t mean Hamilton-Wenham will just swing for the fences. The team relies on a lineup that mixes in some small ball with speedy runners like Peach and Nick Glovsky; 11-year-olds Jones and Aidan Cann can both drive the ball too.
Defensively, Hamilton-Wenham is solid at all nine positions but the team’s real strength on the diamond comes from its best players performing at the most crucial positions. Parady and Durgin give H-W two experienced catchers while Peach, Cronin and centerfielder Horgan provide the club with some strength up the middle.
“Right now, we have a bunch of kids who can drive the ball, but we have a good mix of small ball and power hitters. I think our hitting will be strong but it’s hard to gauge because you’re going to run up against the best of the best in other towns,” said Peach. “Adam and Phil will be our primary catchers. Other than pitcher, it’s one of the other key positions you lean on. If you a have weak catcher, teams take advantage. Cam is our primary shortstop, Jack plays second base and Paul Horgan is our anchor in the outfield. It makes us pretty strong up the middle.”
The tournament often comes down to baseball IQ and decision making in the field. If Hamilton-Wenham is going to make it out of district play, the Generals will have to be as smart as they are adept in the field and at the dish.
“That (IQ) will come into play somewhere down the line. Either we’ll steal a game or lose a game based on baseball IQ,” said Peach. “These kids need to make quite an adjustment from the regular season where they’re all the best players in the league. They’ll be asked to do different things in the All Stars and a lot of them will end up playing a different position that they may not be 100 percent comfortable with, so their ability to adapt to different situations and new situations will make a difference.”
While H-W will look to thrive off of its depth, the Middleton Williamsport All Star team will look to build off of its experience.
Harrison Brickett, Patrick Costigan, Dylan Cristianson and Athan Reppas all return from last year’s team that advanced out of the pool-play round before falling in double-elimination.
Christianson will be behind the plate for a majority of the tournament. With Brickett at shortstop, Costigan at second base and Reppas in centerfield, Middleton is rock-solid up the middle. The team will need its newcomers too as Nick Cafarelli, Ryan Manning and Michael Duest will be the squad’s top three pitchers and all three have had success in various all star tournaments in past summers.
Sometimes, part of the problem for Williamsport coaches trying to figure out the best line ups is that the coaches only see bits and pieces of each player throughout the regular season. However, Middleton shouldn’t have such a problem as manager Bill Costigan can rely on his assistant coaches — David Sacco and Steve Brickett — who have been coaching this same group of boys for the last half decade.
Hamitlon-Wenham begins tonight at Bialek Field in Ipswich against Danvers National while Middleton doesn’t get started until Saturday with a big test against Gloucester National in Groveland.
WILLIAMSPORT ALL-STAR ROSTERS Hamilton-Wenham Aidan Cann (3B) 11 Jack Cronin (P/C/2B/SS) 12 Phillip Durgin (P/C) 12 Nick Glovsky (OF) 12 Aidan Heney (OF) 12 Paul Horgan (OF/C/P) 12 Will Jones (1B/OF/P) 11 Adam Parady (P/C) 12 Cameron Peach (P/SS/2B) 12 Mark Roselli (OF/3B/P) 12 Pierson Tocci (2B/3B) 12 Billy Whelan (1B/OF) 12 Middleton Harrison Brickett (SS) 12 Patrick Costigan (2B) 12 Dylan Christianson (C) 12 Athan Reppas (CF) 12 Jack Aldrich (OF) 12 Mark Arsenault (1B/OF) 12 Michael Dunst (P/OF/1B) 12 Brendan Driscoll (OF) 12 Ryan Manning (P, 1B) 12 Alec Reardon (OF) 12 Nick Cafarelli (P, 3B, SS) 11 David Sacco (OF/C/1B) 11 Boxford Ben Chadwick Gino Cioto Alex DiBlasi Thomas Eckert Eion Howley Simon Kotarski Daniel McNamara Daniel Milmoe William Roberts Colin Valis Harrison Warshafsky Alex Zenus