The Gloucester American 11-year All-Star Team won the Massachusetts District 15 Little League Jimmy Fund Tournament with a 7-5 win over the former two-time champion Danvers American. The score was tied 5-5 after six innings of regulation play, and the game was extended three extra innings before Jeremy McCollum’s walk-off 2-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning sealed the victory Gloucester.
Gloucester advanced to the playoff round by winning 3 of its 4 games in Pool Play. Gloucester first “mercy-ruled” Amesbury 10-0 in 4 innings to open the tournament. Gloucester then lost its sole defeat in the tournament 5-4 to the hands of Hamilton-Wenham. Gloucester came back to beat Beverly East 7-1. Gloucester closed out Pool Play with a 13-3 victory over Manchester in 5 innings to advance to the playoff round. Pool play featured 2 home runs by staff ace Eric Chalmers, as well as a home run apiece for Jake Horrigan and Jeremy McCollum.
Gloucester’s playoffs started with a 10-4 win over Middleton. Gloucester received stellar pitching from workhorse Willie Moore, who helped to keep Middleton to just 2 runs over the first 4 innings. Offensively, Horrigan, Matt Smith, Salvi Costanzo, and Cody Burke each scored two runs for Gloucester in opening playoff round.
In the semi-finals, Gloucester faced top seed Beverly West, who came into the game with five victories and no defeats, and leading all teams in scoring. Beverly jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Gloucester fought back in the bottom of the first with three consecutive doubles by Smith, Chalmers, and Costanzo, followed by a single by Jon-Jon Mondello, and ended the inning up 4-2. Beverly West came back with 4 runs of their own in the top of the third to go up 6-4, but the lead was short lived. Gloucester battled back in the bottom of the third with back to back solo home runs by Costanzo and McCollum to tie the score at 6-6. Both teams were held scoreless in the fourth, but the dynamic duo of Costanzo and McCollum struck again in the 5th inning. With Costanzo on base, McCollum hit his second home run of the night to put Gloucester ahead 8-6. From there, Gloucester’s defense took over, shutting Beverly West down the rest of the game.
Near record heat of 104 degrees was the top story of the day as Gloucester faced Danvers American in the winner take all Mass District 15 Little League 11 Year Old Jimmy Fund Tournament final, which was hosted by both Danvers National and Danvers American Little Leagues. Gloucester jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when McCollum’s first homer of the night, followed an RBI single by Costanzo. Danvers battled back scoring single runs in both the second and the third inning to bring the score to 3-2, with each team having left the bases loaded on one occasion.
Danvers went on the offensive in the fourth inning, plating 3 runs and taking a 5-3 lead. But lightning struck twice as for the second night in a row, Gloucester received back to back solo home runs from Costanzo and McCollum, and tied the score at 5-5 after 4 innings.
Costanzo relieved starting pitcher Mondello in the sixth inning and pitched 4 solid innings of shutout baseball. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Gloucester made a bid for the victory. Smith led off with a single. Following a hit batter, Costanzo singled into left center field, but a perfect throw by centerfielder Matt Reidy and a strong play by Danvers catcher Max D’Amora nailed Smith at the plate.
The game was held scoreless for the next two innings as both teams held defensively. In the bottom of the third extra inning Smith led off with a single. Two outs later, Jeremy McCollum hit a walk-off round tripper, his third of the game, and his fifth over two days, to seal the victory for Gloucester.
The Gloucester team included Cody Burke, Eric Chalmers, Eric Cilluffo, Salvi Costanzo, Adam Goodick, Jake Horrigan Evan Leaf, Jeremy McCollum, Jon-Jon Mondello, Willie Moore, Chris Noyes, and Matt Smith. The team was coached by Chip Smith, Donny Chalmers, and Jack Costanzo.
The coaches praised the total team effort that helped bring the championship to Gloucester. While McCollum stole the show with his home run extravaganza, the coaches noted that the title would not have been possible without the hustle, defense, and stellar pitching delivered throughout the tournament. Coaches offered special praise for baserunning of Cilluffo and Goodick, the hustle plays of Noyes, the catching support of Leaf, and some spectacular defensive plays by Horrigan, Chalmers, and Smith. The pitching was led by Chalmers, McCollum, Mondello and Costanzo. Collectively, the team blasted a dozen home runs, as McCollum (6), Chalmers (2), Horrigan (2), and Costanzo (2) each went long on multiple occasions.