BEVERLY— It looked like it was going to be a rough night for Gloucester American early on in its District 15 Williamsport Little League baseball contest against Manchester Essex at Harry Ball Field.
Harry Painter of Manchester Essex ripped a three run home run to right center field with nobody out in the top of the first giving his team a 3-0 lead. Nobody in attendence would have figured that it would be the last run for Manchester Essex in the game.
Gloucester American starter Eric Chalmers, however, made sure Manchester Essex would score no more allowing no runs and just two hits over the final five innings after allowing three runs on five hits in the first while Sal Costanzo and Jeremy McCollum powered the offense in Gloucester American's 4-3 win.
"Eric is one of if not the best pitcher in the district," Gloucester American manager Chip Smith said. "He was great again tonight. His fast ball was dominant and he had great command of his off speed pitch. Manchester Essex can hit the ball off of anybody and he did a great job containing them after the first inning."
With the win Gloucester American moves on to the District 15 final to be played Friday at Harry Ball Field (7:30 p.m.), Gloucester will need to be beaten twice and if they are to lose Saturday an all or nothing game will be played on Saturday back at Harry Ball Field.
Manchester Essex is also still alive as it will play Danvers American Thursday at Harry Ball Field (7:30 p.m.) with the winner moving on to play Gloucester American Friday.
Trailing 3-0, Gloucester American pulled even in the bottom of the third thanks to a pair of home runs. McCollum cut the Manchester Essex lead to 3-2 with a towering two run shot to left field. McCollum just missed a home run in his first at bat flying out to the warning track in center. He was followed by Costanzo, who's line shot cleared the right center field fence to tie the score at 3-3.
Costanzo was not done as he came up to bat with one out in the bottom of the fifth and ripped a solo home run nearly identical to his first. His second home run, however, proved to be the game winner as it put Gloucester American up 4-3. Chalmers shut the door in order in the sixth to preserve the win.
"Sal Costanzo and Jeremy McCollum were our offense tonight," Smith said. "All three of those home runs were huge."
Manchester Essex led off the first inning with base hits from Ethan Ketchum and Tate Ostrowski before Painters big home run. Starter Cosmo Pallazola pitched well for Manchester Essex striking out eight in 3 2/3 innings pitched.
Ketchum was the lone Manchester Essex player with two hits while Costanzo led all players with three hits and Chalmers chipped in a pair of hits.
Tuesday's contest also featured stellar defense as neither team made an error. Outfielders Alex Favazza and Matt Smith made big catches for Gloucester while infielders Will Moore and McCollum also played outstanding defense. Outfielders Mitch Paccone and Ryan Garlitz played well defensively for Manchester Essex.
Gloucester American now turns its attention to the District 15 Final on Friday, and whether it's Manchester Essex or Danvers American, Smith knows his team will be playing a tough opponent.
"We found out tonight how good Manchester Essex is everywhere on the field and Danvers American is always one of the top teams," Smith said. "We will have our hands full either way but as our neighbors we would love to see Manchester Essex win and get a rematch with us on Friday."
Gloucester American 4 Manchester Essex 3
at Harry Ball Field, Beverly
ME: Ketchum 2b 2-1-2, Ostrowski ss/p 3-1-1, Painter ss/3b 3-1-1, Sarmanian 3b/c 3-0-0, Levendusky 1b 3-0-1, Paccone rf 3-0-1, Athanas lf 2-0-0, Julian c 1-0-0, Pallazola p/1b 3-0-0, Garlitz cf 2-0-1. Totals 25-3-7.
GA: Chalmers p 2-1-2, Horrigan 2b 3-0-0, McCollum 1b/3b 3-1-1, Costanzo ss 3-2-3, Matt Smith lf 2-0-1, Oliver lf 0-0-0, Mondello cf 3-0-0, Moore 1b 1-0-1, Marc Smith c 2-0-0, Favazza rf 1-0-0, Burke rf 1-0-0. Totals 21-4-8.
RBI: ME, Painter 3; GA, McCollum 2, Costanzo 2.
WP, Chalmers; LP, Ostrowski