PEABODY — In Bill Belichick fashion, the Peabody West 12-year-old All-Star team did its job through its undefeated run to the District 16 Tournament crown. Now, Peabody West is on to sectionals.
The team has turned the page on its District 16 championship as it gears up for this week’s Section 4 Tournament. West begins its quest for a sectional championship Wednesday afternoon (4:30) against Danvers National. The sectional round continues with games Thursday (4:30) against Woburn and Friday (6:30) against Billerica. All three games of the pool play tournament will be played at Deyermond Field in Andover.
“It feels great,” Peabody West manager Steve Porcella said of the opportunity to represent District 16 in sectionals. “The kids are excited. I think it’s the first time this group has had a chance to experience a district championship.”
Since defeating Lynnfield 17-2 in a three-inning win in last Thursday’s District 16 championship game, Peabody West has seen no shortage of community support which Procella and his players have embraced.
“We’ve had phone calls from past league presidents, past coaches, past families that have been involved in the league,” Porcella, in his second season managing the West 12’s, said. “The support has been great. Everyone’s rallying around us. The support always helps.”
West has a good idea of what Danvers National will bring to Wednesday’s tilt. The two teams scrimaged each other earlier in the season. Porcella was in attendance last Friday night when Danvers National defeated Amesbury in the District 15 championship game.
“We saw a little bit of Danvers when they played against Amesbury for their district title,” Porcella said. “We scrimmaged earlier in the season so we know a little bit about them. They’re a good team. They have good pitching, they’re going to hit the ball hard and we’ll have to play our best defensive game.”
In preparing for the sectional round, West has kept its normal practice routine. After a few rest days, West returned to the diamond for practice Sunday.
“One thing about baseball players and coaches is we’re all superstitious,” Porcella said. “Everyone wants to keep the same routine and practice schedule. We got back to practice Sunday. We’ll get a few practices in before gametime but we’re keeping the same schedule.”
West pitchers Jayce Dooley, Thomas Fabbo and Nick Villano are rested and all three will be ready to take the mound this week. West’s offense, led by Dooley, Villano, Fabbo, Andy Bousquet and Josh Scali, follows an aggressive approach that has opened the door for timely hits.
“Timely hitting is always important,” Porcella said. “In terms of pitching, we’ll be monitoring the pitch counts closely. Timely hitting is always something good if you want to get a win.”
One challenge West will take on this week is that of playing three games in consecutive days. From a manager’s perspective, Porcella and his assistants, Dennis Villano and Lelo Fabbo, will approach sectionals a bit differently. Porcella noted that with three games in as many days, managing pitch counts becomes all the more important but he’s confident the players will get the job done.
“The kids know how to win tough games,” Porcella said. “In sectional games you have to play a bit differently. You have to manage pitchers a bit differently, you have to give proper rest to your catchers. I think the team’s capable of it. From a coaching perspective you have to handle those games differently.”
West ran the table through District 16 and remains undefeated at 5-0. The team logged two victories over Lynnfield and one each over Lynn Shore, Wyoma and Pine Hill. Porcella said his team doesn’t feel any added pressure entering sectionals with an undefeated mark.
“I don’t think (being undefeated) adds any pressure,” Porcella said. “You get a lot of pressure alleviated when you win districts. We know we have a good team and we’re going to see what happens.
Porcella added, “We’re excited for the opportunity and we’re looking forward to it.”