By Dan Harrison
---- — BEVERLY — And the award for the most exciting District 15 Little League all-star game played this summer goes to Beverly and Hamilton-Wenham.
The boys from the Garden City Williamsport team defeated the Generals last night, 6-5, at Harry Ball Field in a game that featured four double plays, three plays at the plate and, of course, some good old fashioned Little League controversy.
Trailing 6-3 going into the bottom of the sixth and final inning, Hamilton-Wenham rallied. An RBI double by Cameron Peach and a RBI infield single by Adam Parady got the Generals to within one run with two outs and the bases loaded.
Aidan Heney hit a ground ball to first base that appeared to be misplayed, thereby allowing Parady to score and tie the game. However, the umpires ruled that the ball hit a Hamilton-Wenham base runner who was headed to second base, thus ending the game.
Hamilton-Wenham fans felt jilted — the same way Beverly fans felt in the top of the fifth when an apparent home run deep over the fence in left was negated when H-W appealed that the runner didn’t touch first base on his home run trot.
“That was a great Little League baseball game,” said Beverly (6-1) manager Jim Cross. “Crazy things happen. My kids just kept battling, battling, battling and never gave up.”
With the win, Beverly (now 6-1 in District 15 all-star action) moved to Friday night’s championship game at Harry Ball Field (7:30 p.m.). Hamilton-Wenham fell into the loser’s bracket final on Thursday night, where it will face the winner of tonight’s Amesbury vs. Danvers American (5:30)
Hamilton-Wenham (5-2) manager Bill Peach was quick to dismiss the notion that the sixth inning call cost his team the game. Twice H-W was caught trying to take home on passed balls and twice the Generals fielders could have made tough plays to save a pair of runs in the second inning.
“That call didn’t cost us the game. We had other opportunities early that we didn’t take advantage of,” noted Peach. “You can’t blame any one individual or anyone play.
“It’s going to take a little time to put this behind us and focus on the next step.”
Jack Cronin started on the mound for the Generals but was pulled after allowing six runs in the first inning and a third. Joey Ward, Johnny Gilbride (2-for-3), Ryan Barror (two RBI) and Matt Cross (2-for-3) all had RBI in the frame, while Gilbride scored after tagging from second on a fly ball to right field after a throwing error.
“It was a team effort. We got plays from almost every kid on the team,” said Cross, who also praised backup catcher Kyle Camara (filling for injured Tim McCarthy) for making three strong plays at the plate. “(Camara) jammed his thumb too and we thought we didn’t have a catcher, but he hung in there and did a great job.”
Ward started the game for Beverly and pitched well despite struggling with control at times. Matt Collins came in with nobody out in the top of the fourth and finished the game with a gutsy performance as the pressure mounted in the final half-inning.
“For a 12-year-old kid that’s a lot of pressure,” said Cross. “I’m proud of Matt.”
Peach and Mark Roselli combined to finish the game for the Generals and didn’t allow any runs. Roselli took the hill in the top of the fifth and he got all five batters he faced. It was his first time pitching in the District 15 all-star tournament, but he looked like a seasoned veteran.
“They both pitched well,” said Peach. “We’ve been working with (Roselli) on his control, and he came in and stopped them. He’s got a great arm.”
Pierson Tocci (1-for-1 with a walk), the team’s No. 7 hitter, got Hamilton-Wenham on the board with an opposite field home run that he drove over the fence in right center in the bottom of the second.
Beverly will play on Friday night in the Championship round after emerging from the winners’ bracket while H-W enters one-and-done play with a game against the winner of Amesbury vs (the winner of Danvers/Manchester) on Thursday.