By Matt Williams
---- — BEVERLY — Defending District 15 Little League Williamsport all-star champion Danvers American didn’t leave anything to chance in an elimination game against Amesbury last night.
Jonathan Weimert blasted a pair of three-run homers, Colby Holland hit a two-run shot and Tom Mento collected three RBI to propel Danvers to a 14-1 victory at Harry Ball Field.
The Americans advance to face Hamilton-Wenham in an elimination game back at Harry Ball Field tonight (7 p.m.). The winner of that contest will meet Beverly tomorrow needing to win twice to keep the Garden City kids from grabbing their first District 15 crown since 1993.
Danvers American, now 6-1 on the summer, scored runs in four of last night’s five innings on the strength of 13 hits by seven different players. Starting pitcher Anthony Olszak allowed just three hits in 3 1/3 innings and threw only 33 pitches to stay available should Danvers continue to win.
“Everything is moving in the right direction. To me, things are very positive right now. We have a lot of good pitching left, the boys are hitting better now and they’re playing with confidence and as a team,” said Danvers American manager Mike Holland, whose team is the only one to beat Beverly so far in the tournament.
Holland, whose team lost to Hamilton-Wenham 2-1 Sunday and will play for the fifth straight day, expects another close game tonight, “We’ve already faced the other two teams left, so we should have a little confidence. We made some small mistakes the first time against Hamilton, and we know we can play with them.”
Leadoff batter Tim Lam (3 runs scored) reached to begin the top of the first as Danvers grabbed control immediately. Mento (2 hits, 2 runs scored, 3 RBI) knocked Lam in after he stole second and Weimart followed with the first two of his eight total RBI.
Matt Taylor (2 hits) hit an RBI double to make it 4-0 Danvers after one. Olszak made quick work of Amesbury in the bottom of the first and Mento had another RBI as Danvers led 5-0 through two innings.
Holland and Weimert then both clobbered homers in the fourth as Danvers stretched its lead to 10-0. Amesbury kept its hopes alive by scoring on a bases-loaded walk after Olszak came out to avoid passing a pitch count that would require another day of rest.
Weimart went yard for the second straight inning (this one a towering blast well over the left field bleachers) in the top of the fifth to give Danvers a healthy cushion, and relief pitcher Taylor retired the side in order to end the game.
“If we can get by (today’s game), we’ll have almost full pitching,” said Mike Holland. We have Taylor, Colby Holland and Cam Morrison ready for (today), Anthony can come back (tomorrow) and we should have Mento as well.”
Matt Brennan provided a pair of hits and scored a run for Danvers, Brett Palladino had one hit and Morrison had a hit with two runs scored. The highlights belonged to Colby Holland and Weimart, who each now have four homers in the District 15 tournament.
“When Jon hits it, it goes far. Those went really far,” Mike Holland said.
Tom Flanagan, Derek Beauprais, Dan Webber and Derek Doherty had Amesbury’s four hits, which were all singles. Danvers benefited from some great defense, including a 6-3 double play turned by shortstop Colby Holland in the second.
Amesbury loaded the bags in the third and Danvers turned two once more. After getting the force out at third on a fielder’s choice, Taylor fired home to catcher Mento, who tagged the Amesbury runner for the last out of the inning. Later, Olszak made a nice leaping catch on a line drive.
“We do a lot of work on our defense and it shows,” said Mike Holland, who has been impressed by his team’s work ethic and the support they’ve had from the town.
“We haven’t had any off days. Even when it rains, we’ve been inside and the janitors at the school have been great. We’ve had two high school kids, Joe Strangie and A.J. Couto, helping us out and they’ve been great. They could be off doing a lot of things but they love the sport and they’ve been great role models for the boys to be around.”