Evans Field in Rockport seems to bring the best out of the Manchester Essex baseball team.
On Sunday in the finals of the Rockport Memorial Day Holiday Tournament at Evans, the Hornets held off rival Hamilton-Wenham, 3-2, for their third straight tournament crown and have now won nine straight games at Evans Field dating back to the 2016 tournament. It is Manchester Essex’s third straight holiday tournament win, fourth in the last five years and fifth overall in eight years.
“We always seem to play well here,” said Hornets head coach B.J. Weed, whose team improves to 13-5. “It’s always a great atmosphere at this field and this tournament is always a lot of fun to play in. We have come to play in this tournament.”
It was the third meeting between the two rivals, who split two league games are one-two in the Cape Ann League Baker Division at the moment with the Generals (13-7) having clinched at least a share of the crown and the Hornets having a chance to tie them with a win in their final two league games. The two teams could also meet in the Division 4 North State Tournament in the coming weeks.
Sunday’s tournament final was a well played game that saw both teams work out of jams to keep the score tight as both teams left 10 men on base.
“It was two great teams going at it,” Weed said. “I have a feeling it’s not the last time we will see them. Our team did a good job, responded well. We did leave some guys on base but they played a good game too and executed in some big spots.”
Hamilton-Wenham head coach Reggie Maidment was complimentary of the quality of play on the field.
“It was a good game between two really good teams,” he said. “We did a good job getting out of some jams and that’s a testament to our pitching depth all year. We had some runners in scoring position but they made some big outs too. Sometimes they fall and sometimes they don’t.”
Manchester Essex starter Kellen Heney and Hamilton-Wenham starter Everett Wonson breezed through the first three innings without allowing a run, until both teams got on the board in the fourth inning.
“Heney is a freshman but I don’t consider him one with the way he competes,” Weed said. “He’s been on all year. He didn’t have his A stuff tonight but he competed and pitched a good game.”
After a walk, a fielding error and a sacrifice bunt from Wonson put runners on second and third, Paul Horgan knocked them both in with a single up the middle to make it 2-0 Generals.
The Hornets, whoever, would get it back and take the lead in the frame.
Harry Painter led off with a single and scored from first on a double deep down the left field line from Bennett O’Leary, who was named tournament MVP has he had multiple hits in each night of the tournament and drove in five runs. O’Leary and Dylan Wilson, who was hit by a pitch, came in to score when Jackson Levendusky blooped one down the left field line that spun into foul territory, allowing both runners to come in for a 3-2 Manchester Essex lead.
Hamilton-Wenham would put the tying run on base in each of the next three innings and the tying run in scoring position in the sixth and seventh. But pitchers Will Janowicz and Ryan Andrews made big pitches to get out of the innings unscathed.
In addition to O’Leary being named MVP, teammate Luke Leavitt was named to the all tournament team, he had six RBIs and a grand slam in Saturday’s tournament opener against Rockport. Hamilton-Wenham’s Keegan O’Shea, Rockport’s Kyle Beal and Ipswich’s Cam James were all named to the all tournament team.