By Conor Walsh
---- — BEVERLY -- Although it entered last night’s game winless in District 15 pool play without a win, the Gloucester American little league team still found itself in as much control of its own destiny as a team in such a situation could hope for.
While the Americans had dropped their first two games, Beverly’s win over Boxford that preceded Gloucester Americans’ game with Rockport at Beverly’s Harry Ball Field last night set up the potential for a three-way tie for second place in the pool at 2-2.
All the Americans had to do, then, was take care of business, and they did just that. Gloucester American was aggressive at the plate and on the basepaths from the start, and with a strong pitching trio of Marc Smith, Alex Favazza and Ben Oliver, the Americans thrust themselves right back into the mix of their pool with a 7-1 win through the fog at Harry Ball.
“It makes Friday night mean something now,” Gloucester American coach Chip Smith said. “We’re 1-2, Beverly’s 2-1. If we win then we could set up a three-way tie for second place, so it’s definitely meaningful.”
It didn’t take long for the Americans to get on the board. After Rockport starter Jason Mahoney retired the first two Gloucester batters, Smith sliced a triple down the right field line. During the next at-bat, Smith swiped the plate as the ball was returned to Mahoney on a beautiful delayed steal that gave the Americans the lead for good.
Things kept rolling in the top of the third inning for Gloucester American when Brandon Bruce, Calvin Spenser and Oliver strung together three-straight singles to set the table for what would be a four-run frame. Spenser, Smith and Favazza each knocked in runs in the lopsided inning, helping further the Gloucester lead and allowing the elder Smith to set up his pitching for Friday’s crucial game.
“It keeps everybody available for Friday night, which is obviously part of the goal,” Smith said.
The game leveled off after that third-inning outburst. Rockport got on the board when Adam Ramsden worked a walk with one out in the third and made his way around the bases on wild pitches, and Gloucester responded with two more runs of its own on RBI from Oliver and Colby Mitchell in the top of the fourth.
That was it for the scoring. Ryan Webb and Will Andrews each threw scoreless innings in relief for the Vikings, whose defense found its way later in the game, and Gloucester’s trio of Smith, Favazza and Oliver surrendered just one hit -- a fifth-inning single by Rockport first baseman Noah Ranson.
While Gloucester will move on to a big game Friday night, Rockport saw its District 15 run end with last night’s loss. The Vikings finish pool play at 0-4.
But while the Vikings’ run ended, last night was a big improvement after three lopsided losses earlier in the pool play. Mahoney kept them very much in the game with a solid start and they were solid in the field.
“Jason’s probably our best pitcher, and he gave us a good chance today,” Rockport coach Scott Bouchie said. “Tonight was a better effort from our team, they definitely gave a better effort tonight.”