Salem eliminates Pine Hill from Little League tournament

Pine Hill’s Willy McCafferty throws a pitch during the game against Salem Sunday. (Owen O'Rourke)

PEABODY — When Salem’s Rocco Ryan laced a single to right field with men on base in the first inning, it looked like he would put his team up early.

However, Pine Hill All-Star left fielder Mason Miller delivered a strike to the plate, throwing out Salem’s Jack Doyle on a close play at home.

The play had all the signs of a potential momentum-swinging play for the Hillies. But Salem was unfazed, ultimately scoring 14 runs over the next three innings of the shortened game and cruise to a 14-0 win over Pine Hill Sunday afternoon at Lt. Ross park in Peabody in a District 16 elimination game.

“I told them I said, ‘don’t let that call dictate this game lets go out and do it’,” Salem manager Kevin McGrath said. “It was a close play. This team has always played through the losers’ bracket. We have always played through adversity. It doesn’t faze them, I love this team I love coaching these kids.”

The Salem offense was led by Casey McGrath (2-for-2, 2 walks) who had four RBI, Shawn O’Keefe (1-for-4) who had three RBI and Kaya Jackson (1-for-1 with a walk) who added two RBI. Corey Grimes (1-for-4), Charly Lara (1-for-2), and Doyle (3-for-4) also each added one RBI for Salem.

Doyle also pitched all four innings for Salem, only allowing two hits while walking one batter, hitting one batter with a pitch, and striking out eight batters in the shutout win.

“I can’t say enough about Jack Doyle pitching today it was exactly what we needed,” Kevin McGrath said. “He got in under 65 pitches, three days rest, which is huge at this point. One of our strengths is we’re deep at pitcher and you need pitching to get through this.”

For Pine Hill only Miller and Chris Champa got base hits. Four different pitchers took the mound for Pine Hill: Willy McCafferty, Richie Avery, Champa and Nicky Rogers, but none could silence the Salem bats.

“We just didn’t have it today,” Pine Hill manager Joe Driscoll said. “We ran into a good pitcher, he (Doyle) is a great all around player, we just didn’t put timely hits together, made a couple errors in the field, couldn’t get out of innings and that’s what happens when you face a good team like that.”

After being denied runs in the first, Salem got on the board in the second after an single by Jack Doyle and an error in left field brought home Levy DeSilva. A double by McGrath and single from Grimes later in the inning put Salem up 4-0 after two.

There on out it was non-stop big innings for Salem, who added five runs in both the third and fourth innings on their way to the 14-0 win.

Pine Hill found a bit of life in the third when Jaiden Driscoll was hit by a pitch and reached base. A walk by Juneill Guzman and a single by Champa loaded the bases with two outs later in the inning. However, Pine Hill couldn’t capitalize on the scoring chance.

With the loss, Pine Hill was eliminated from the District 16 tournament.

“We’ve been together with these guys a long time,” Driscoll said of his team. “We have a small league so we see a lot of each other every day. I’m definitely going to miss the 12-year-olds, they’ve been with me since they were eight-year-olds, they hold a special spot in my heart.”

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