LYNN — And then there were four. And Woburn Little League is one of them.
The Woburn Little League 9-10-year-old All-Stars are heading to the state’s Final Four tourney after they beat Hamilton-Wenham, 10-3, in the championship game of the Section 4 tourney Monday night at Lynn Wyoma’s Charlie Reinfuss Field.
Woburn, now 9-1, was one of 16 teams remaining in the state and went 3-1 in its four-team sectional tourney in Lynn, beating Peabody and Tewksbury National along the way to get to the finals against Hamilton-Wenham.
The young Tanners belted out 16 hits and scored seven runs in the second to put the game away early. They also rode the terrific performance of their crafty left-handed pitchers — Matthew Toland (four innings, four hits, one walk, seven strikeouts) and reliever Brady MacCutcheon (two innings, two hits, one walk, three strikeouts).
Starter Toland outside of a two-run third inning allowed just one hit. He pitched a flawless second and fourth inning.
“Our pitchers were great,” said Woburn coach Mike MacCutcheon. “Normally my son starts but he slipped and twisted his ankle against Peabody so we flipped the script. He and Toland were my 1 and 1A pitchers.”
Woburn put up seven runs on eight hits in the second inning and never trailed from there.
In that devastating inning, Hamilton-Wenham committed three errors helping the Tanners send 11 batters to the plate against lefty starter Braeden Hurley.
But it wasn’t just errors. Woburn hit — a lot. The final damage in the second with eight hits and seven runs and five clutch RBI.
Who chipped in?
Woburn’s Toland (two hits, two RBI, two runs in the game), Luke Yorba (two hits, RBI, run), Thomas Doherty (three hits, two RBI, run) and Jack McEleney (two hits, RBI, run) all had run-scoring hits in the second.
Hard-throwing Hamilton-Wenham lefty Gian Camelli put out the fire in relief with a strikeout and a groundout . Camelli allowed just three Woburn runs the rest of the way while striking out six and allowing as many hits.
“Our bats were electric,” said MacCutcheon. “We teach these kids to have confidence in themselves and to not be afraid and to take a strike and look for the pitch you want. Make the pitcher work with you as opposed to saying, ‘I just want to make contact.’ Have confidence in yourself. We want them to feel that. This is a great group of kids and families that gave up their entire summer for this.”
Hamilton-Wenham won the District 15 championship with a win over Danvers National and had confidence after beating Woburn (its only loss of the summer) the night before the championship. Essentially that was a championship tuneup because each team, at 2-0, had already clinched a spot in Monday night’s finals.
Hamilton-Wenham did not bow out easily.
After the Woburn seven-spot in the second, the Generals fought back with two runs on a two-out, two-strike RBI double from James Willett off Toland. That scored Jack Cooke (single) and Hurley (double), each of whom rallied the visiting team with two outs.
Willett’s second hit of the night in the sixth followed by Galen Clark-Goldfeld’s RBI double (that scored Willett) accounted for Hamilton-Wenham’s final run.
“That’s a fantastic team over there in Hamilton-Wenham,” said MacCutcheon. “They were fighting, fouling off balls all night. That kid (Gamelli) hit a 220-foot home run off us the night before. We are very fortunate to be moving on.”
But the Hamilton-Wenham bats were mostly quiet on this high-70s, north shore mid-summer evening. The Generals had just five hits and were held hitless in four of the six innings.
Outside of the critical second inning, Woburn got a pair of runs in the third and one in the fifth.
In the third, Jack Lee’s RBI single scored Jared Simpson, a pinch runner for MacCutcheon, who singled. Yorba’s sacrifice flyout plated Toland in the same inning.
Doherty’s third hit of the night came in the fifth when he drove home Yorba, who singled. That put Woburn up, 10-2.
“We had our two studs on the mound,” said H-W coach Marty Cooke. “Hurley throws strike after strike and give credit to Woburn. They were hitting him.”
Woburn, which beat Reading in the District 13 championship to get here, is heading to the state’s Final Four. That tourney starts this Saturday in Holden.
They’ll open up Saturday, at 10 a.m. against Brookline at Swenson Memorial Field in Holden.
The winner of that will face the winner of the Section 1 and Section 2 game that follows Woburn-Brookline. It was undecided who the Section 1 and Section 2 champs were as of Monday night.
The state finals is set for Sunday at the same field at 11 a.m.