The Hamilton-Wenham Little League Williamsport team served notice to the other District 15 teams on opening night of pool play, not so much by having Game 1 starting pitcher Gavin Cann strike out the first three Danvers National batters, but rather it was Cann, Daniel Tobin and Parker Tocci who each hit first inning home runs to take an early lead 4-0.
As the spectators buzzed with the multitude of first inning home run hits, the Generals knew that Danvers National would not go so easily.
They battled back to tie the game on two home runs of their own, which were also by the same player - starting pitcher Justin Roberto – in the second and fourth inning.
In the Generals bottom of the fourth, Matt Hawke led off with a solid single and Sal Guarino delivered a sharp hit ball to right field that was misplayed, allowing Hawke to score. Jake Lanciani then hit a hard double to right field, scoring Guarino and the Generals regained the lead.
In the fifth inning, Hawke hit his second single of the night and then Nick Grammas gave the Generals the final score with a home run blast to left center. Parker Tocci came on in relief for Cann. After giving up a double, he settled in and then struck out the next player. He then got the next batter to hit a fly ball to center field. Cann was waiting. Cann caught the fly ball and then threw to home to Grammas who applied the tag to a charging Danvers National player for the game ending double play. The game ended as it started - dramatically. Generals defeated the Danvers National team 9-4.
The next night the Generals found themselves opposite a very tough opponent - Gloucester American. Each year it seems these two teams play some of the best Little League ball around between each other. But the Generals could only muster one run against some of the best pitching in District 15. They ended up losing the game 9-1, however the score does not reveal how well Matt Hawke pitched through four innings when the game was 2-1.
He had 7 strikeouts through 3 and 2/3 innings.
With a day to regroup and focus on third game opponent Boxford, the Generals sent Sal Guarino to the mound on Saturday. He pitched five complete innings and was aided in relief by Adam Parady. The Generals continued to serve notice that this team meant business in the Williamsport Tournament. In the first inning the Generals loaded the bases for Nick Grammas, who delivered a monster grand slam home run for a 4-0 lead after one inning.
Guarino collected three strikeouts for his efforts; however it was the defense that people talked about. Great right field work by Matt Hawke, terrific infield work by Parker Tocci, Nick Fallon, Daniel Tobin, Andrew Riccio, Ben Leach and Jake Lanciani with Grammas behind plate enabled the team to shut out Boxford 9-0.
Offensively the Generals had singles by Cann, Tocci, Hawke and Grammas along with doubles by Adam Parady and Cam Vautour and another home run ball, this time by Daniel Tobin. Ben Leach and Andrew Riccio each drove the ball well to advance runners into scoring positions.
The Hamilton-Wenham Little League Williamsport team plays July 5 at 5:30 p.m. against Danvers American at . The game is the last game of the pool play. Each team is positioned to advance with a victory. A loss for the Generals does not mean they are out of the tournament. If there is a tie between two teams for wins and losses for games played, the head to head match up is reviewed to see who advances. If there are more than two teams tied, the tie-breaker procedure moves to runs allowed per inning played.
Given the Generals stingy defense and explosive batting, chances are promising for this team to secure another victory.
“Either way it goes the team has played so well, come together so fast as a team, and provided so much great baseball for the families and fans. The boys are one of the best group to play for the two towns” Manager Phil Tocci stated.