BEVERLY — When it comes to Little League baseball, the tables can turn in the blink of an eye.
That reality was on full display Monday night at Beverly’s Harry Ball Field, as a competitive, neck and neck contest between Danvers American and Middleton swiftly shifted to a mercy rule decision.
With the score knotted up heading to the bottom half of the fourth, host Danvers plated 10 unanswered runs to walk away with a mercy-rule-shortened 14-4 triumph. The win eliminates Middleton from District 15 competition and sends Danvers into the loser’s bracket championship; the Americans will now have to win three in a row — beginning with one against Manchester Essex on Tuesday evening (7:30 back at Harry) — for a chance to be crowned champs.
“I thought we played good defensively tonight and I thought our bats came alive when we needed it,” said Danvers manager Steve Baldassare. “We get our two big pitchers back (Tuesday) night so we’re ready to go.”
While the end result screamed blowout, the game was really anything but.
In fact, it was Middleton that jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the third inning thanks to RBI hits from Christopher Porfido (2) and Dean Reppas. After Danvers scored four in the bottom half of the frame to take the lead, Porfido would knock in another to tie things at 4 apiece. And then, the Americans’ bats exploded.
Michael Pesce got things started in the 9 hole with a single to left; Christian McCarthy drew a walk and Josh Henry reached on an infield single to quickly load the bases. That paved the way for No. 3 hitter Cam McGonagle to potentially blow things open, and he did just that by mashing a bases clearing triple — and there were still no outs.
“It’s huge to have guys deliver in different spots of the lineup and tonight with our pitching a little off because of the big game against Hamilton-Wenham, we had to move some guys around a little bit,” said Baldassare. “But the guys focus, they do their job and at 12 years old that’s unbelievable.”
Unfortunately for Middleton, the damage was far from done at that point. Jackson Allen drew a walk to score another run, Michael DeMaino had an RBI line-out, Luke Horenstein came off the bench to crack an RBI single and an error scored another run. By that time they had batted around the order and leadoff hitter McCarthy connected for an RBI double and McGonagle ended things with an RBI single.
Danvers also got some solid pitching from Henry (4 Ks in 1 2/3 innings), while Baldassare singled out the timely hitting of Connor DiTomaso who finished with a pair of hits. For Middleton, Porfido did his best early on on the mound to keep his team in it, going three innings with six punch outs.