For the second time in as many days, the North Andover East 10-year-old All-Stars beat Methuen at Tewksbury, this time, capturing the District 14 crown with a 4-2 victory.
The visiting North Andover scored early in the top half of the first inning when Jake McElroy, who walked to reach base, scored from third on a passed ball to take a 1-0 lead. Sebastian Keane had moved him over on a bomb of a double to dead centerfield narrowly missing a homerun.
Methuen struck back with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the frame, scoring on a fielder’s choice and passed ball to control the lead 2-1. North Andover starting right-hander, Jack Anthony only allowed those two runs going 3.1 innings with four strikeouts, two walks and surrendering six hits.
North Andover regained the lead for good in the top of the second. Jake Hamil-Porter began the inning by roping a single up the middle that reached the fence but was gunned down trying to stretch a single into a double. Back-to-back walks from Joe Valentino and Matt Agri set up a Joe Phinney double down the right field line to score Valentino to tie it at 2-2 and move Agri to third. Agri scored on an RBI ground out by Tom Finn to jump N.A. back ahead 3-2. McElroy earned North Andover’s fourth free pass and Keane was hit by a pitch, to load the bases. Joe Quinlin walked to secure an RBI and give N.A. a 4-2 lead.
Anthony sent down the first two batters in the bottom of the second by way of the K but gave up two quick singles. However, a botched delayed steal attempt by Methuen got Anthony out of the inning unscathed.
After a Hamil-Porter groundout to short, North Andover managed another walk from Valentino and base knock by Agri, but squandered the base runners with two quick outs in the top of the third.
Like in the bottom of the second, Anthony struck out the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the third and then yielded a single up the middle. But he bounced right back, stabbing a chopping grounder and tossing it to first with no major damage done.
Methuen threatened again in the bottom of the fourth with two runners on and two away. Anthony got the hook and gave way to Dan Packard, who plunked the first batter he faced. Packard settled down and ended the inning with a strikeout.
North Andover went 1-2-3 in the fifth and sixth top halves leading into a bottom of the sixth with a runner at first and one out away from a District championship. Methuen popped out to third and N.A. celebrated another District championship in the infield as a solid jumping mass of red jerseys and ecstatic smiles.
“It was a great team effort,” coach Mike Valentino said. “Both teams played great defense. There was not much hitting tonight, that’s for sure.”
North Andover advances to the sectional tournament.
“We’re going to stay loose, go and play, and just have a good time,” said Valentino of the upcoming games. “We’re six or seven and [zero] so we’re probably not going to change up much."