The road to the State Little League championship runs through Gloucester.
The final four teams in the 11-12 year-old Massachusetts Williamsport Tournament will meet at Boudreau Field on Western Avenue this summer for the annual State Finals Tournament. The tournament, which features the state's four sectional champs, begins on July 29 and will finish up with the State Championship Game on August 1.
Gloucester was awarded the final rounds of the tournament via a unanimous vote from each of the 16 Little League Districts in the state.
The four sectional champions will meet in a round robin style tournament -- each team plays each other once -- with the top two finishers meeting in a winner-take-all Championship Game.
The Williamsport Little League Tournament has been taking place for decades, but Gloucester is in a bit of a unique spot as this year's State Finals host. The city has never hosted a State Finals Tournament in 53 years of Gloucester Little League although it has hosted District games in the Williamsport Tournament, which is the opening round of play.
In a normal year, the host would have a year to prepare for the tournament. Due to COVID-19 and the fact that the tournament was in doubt just a matter of weeks ago, Gloucester will have two months to prepare.
"We don't have a ton of time but we're happy to be taking it on," Gloucester Little League President Jamie Marshall said. "We're prepared for a good crowd and a super busy event. Something like this doesn't come around too often and we're excited to be hosting."
While Boudreau Field will be the main hub where the official games will be played, all of Gloucester's Little League facilities will be available to the visiting teams.
Teams will be able to hold pre-game workouts or practices at Wilson and Rogers Fields on Dr. Osman Babson Road.
"We have batting cages and two diamonds down there so any team that is staying over to limit travel or comes in early has a place to practice," Marshall said.
The Williamsport Little League Tournament begins in late June and early July with District play. Locally, Gloucester and Manchester Essex compete in District 15, which is currently in the process of putting the pool play schedule together.
From there the District winners will move on to the Sectional Tournament with four teams advancing to the State Finals Tournament. The winner of the State Finals Tournament will represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Regional Tournament, held in Bristol Connecticut. The Regional champ then moves on to Williamsport for the Little League World Series.
Gloucester Little League is looking for volunteers and sponsors for the event in a number of different roles. Those interested in volunteering can reach out via the Gloucester Little League Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/359280486955.