By Jean DePlacido
---- — BEVERLY — John Weimert put an end to Peabody’s five-game win streak and was named MVP of the first Panther Little League Tournament last night.
Weimert pitched a complete game gem to lead Danvers to a 7-3 victory in the championship game at Harry Ball Field. He allowed six hits, walked only one, and struck out six. The defense, which had been shaky in the previous game that Peabody won (5-3) to force the winner take all game, was rock solid behind him.
“John was lights out tonight,” said Danvers manager Scott Taylor. “I couldn’t ask for a better job. We hit early and jumped on the best pitcher in the tournament (Nick Iannuzzi). Give Peabody a lot of credit because that’s a great team that is well coached. We came here to have fun, and from the kids to the coaching staff we had a great time. It’s nice to bring kids from both leagues together (Danvers American and National).”
Danvers led from the start, putting four runs on the board in the bottom of the first after Iannuzzi struck out the first two batters. He walked Weimert, and appeared to be out of the inning when Gino DeSimone struck out but the ball got by the catcher, allowing DeSimone to reach. He later scored on a wild pitch.
Anthony Olszak delivered an RBI single, and after Cooper Hanson walked Tom Mento hit a run-producing double. The fourth run of the inning scored when Jared MacPherson’s grounder was misplayed. Iannuzzi was the victim of poor defense as two Peabody errors proved costly.
DeSimone, who returned after missing the previous game with a back injury, belted a three-run homer in the second inning to make it a 7-0 game. That was all for Iannuzzi, who was replaced by Tyler MacGregor.
Danvers was able to get only one hit off MacGregor, a single by Drew Semons in the fourth inning. MacGregor was impressive, retiring 10 of the 12 batters he faced.
“We didn’t hit, and Nick had a tough two innings on the mound,” said Peabody manager Sarkis Sarkisian. “MacGregor did a nice job in relief. We always intended to bring him in if Iannuzzi got in trouble. I’ll take a 5-2 record any day, and I’m very proud of the kids.
“Before we started I told them the reason they had been picked for this team was because they represented the league, the city and their parents as well. All of them gave everything they had in all the games and they had a great run. I’m happy I got the opportunity to coach them.”
Weimert held Peabody to two hits through four innings, an infield hit by Mason Zeuli and a double by Jonathan Polignone, before running into trouble in the fifth.
Peabody finally got on the board in the fifth when Evan Mullen and Chris Kwmuntis hit back-to-back doubles. Josh Cerretani belted a two-run homer to close the gap to 7-3, but that was as close as they would come. After Chris Masta beat out an infield hit, Weimert bore down to get out of the inning and retired the side in order in the top of the sixth.
Then came the trophy presentations and a victory lap around the field.
“It feels real good to win the tournament,” said Weimert. “I threw fastballs and curve balls all night. I felt good right from the start and got in a groove.”
Tournament director Stephen Marsella was pleased with the way the inaugural tournament went. He thanked his sponsors Salem Five for paying the Beverly team’s entry fee and McFarland Ford of Exeter, NH for supplying their uniforms.
“I didn’t want to charge the kids, and our sponsors made that possible” said Marsella, who managed the Beverly team. “We had some great games, and the weather was great. We’ll absolutely do it again next year and start planning earlier. We want to get a little committee together and fine tune things; overall I’m very pleased.”