BEVERLY — Thanks to Trevor Kimball’s right arm, the all-stars from Amesbury Little League are one game away from their first-ever District 15 championship.
Thursday night under the lights at Harry Ball Field, Kimball was downright brilliant in holding off previously unbeaten Danvers National. Amesbury won, 6-0, to force a winner-take-all bout for the District 15 flag Friday night back in Beverly at 7 p.m.
Danvers had scored double-digit runs in both its wins over Amesbury earlier in the tournament, but Thursday night belonged to Kimball and his 11 strikeout, 2-hit effort that lasted 5 1/3 innings before he reached the pitch count maximum.
“Trevor throws hard and when he spot those offspeed pitches, he’s really hard to catch up to,” said Amesbury coach Craig Genualdo. “He was great. We wanted to live to fight another day and he gave us that chance.”
Amesbury did most of its damage late in the game, though grabbing a 1-0 lead Reece Jezowski’s single in the second inning helped. Will Arsenault’s 2-run homer in the fifth gave Amesbury some breathing room (3-0) and when Drew Scialdone launched a 3-run homer over the left field fence in the sixth, a deciding final game was all but assured.
Meanwhile, Kimball retired the last nine he faced and got eight of those via the K.
“He’s an outstanding pitcher. We knew if he was on that we’d be in for a big challenge,” said Danvers National manager Stan Gesualdi. “The good news for us is we get another chance, and we’ll have our No. 1 pitcher, Mike Moroney, ready to go. That’s the bonus of coming out of the winner’s bracket.”
Steve Reardon pitched pretty well for Danvers, striking out nine and allowing only three hits before he reached the 85-pitch max after 4 1/3 frames. He issued five walks, though, and Amesbury drew eight in all while racking up seven hits. Nats pitchers Reardon, Owen Gasinowski, Jake Semons and Jakob Hamel combined for 13 total strikeouts.
Semons, Hamel and Reardon had the hits for Danvers National, all singles. The only time the Nats got a runner to second base was in the second when Gasinowski walked and advanced on Hamel’s single; otherwise, Amesbury was in complete control of the basepaths.
“If we hit, we’ll be in the ball game,” said Gesualdi, whose team had scored 51 runs in six games before being blanked Thursday.
For Amesbury, which lost to Danvers 16-4 on Monday before beating Beverly in the loser’s bracket to make the finals, Arsenault had two extra base hits with a homer and a double. Scialdone also had two hits, Kimbell and Bobby Porter each drew three walks; Zach Hawrylciz singled, Jezowski had two knocks and Hunter Belisle struck out two of the three batters he faced to end the game.
“The biggest thing for us was getting out of that first inning because in Monday’s game they jumped on us early,” said Genauldo. “Then we started making plays and that get contagious. We played well and we’re excited to be playing again (tomorrow).”
The winner of Friday’s bout will advance to the Section 4 playoffs scheduled to begin next Wednesday against District 16 champion Peabody West as well as the champs from Districts 13 and 14.