On Sunday, despite a valiant effort, the Andover American Little League team was eliminated by Acton-Boxboro in the finals of the District 4 tournament.
American, which had a big legacy to live up to after last year's run by Andover National, made quite a run and more than a few memories this summer.
"We had pool parties," said coach Dave Metzemaekers. "We went out to eat together. We did a lot as a team and I really believe that helped out kids become a team. They really got along. I feel lucky that I was able to coach them."
Here's a look at the past week's run:
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After falling by 10 runs in their previous matchup, Andover American was not about to back down to Acton-Boxboro in the must-win District 4 championship game.
Unfortunately, their opponent just a little too tough, and Andover fell in the title game 5-2 on Sunday.
A-B took a three-run lead in the first on a home run by Jamie Hauswith, and added another to make it 4-0.
"If we could have gotten out of the first inning without them scoring, we knew we'd be in good shape," said coach Dave Metzemaekers.
But Andover rallied back with two runs in the second. After back-to-back walks, Chris Nyhan delivered a two-run double to make the score 4-2.
"It was such a clutch hit at the time by Chris," said Metzemaekers. "It was our first hit of the game. It got us back in the game a little bit. There was so much energy when that happened."
But Andover could manage little more offense against A-B ace Jack McOsker.
"We knew what we were facing in McOsker," said Metzemaekers. "He hadn't allowed a run in the districts. He threw it in the mid-70s. He had a great changeup and a really good curve. He was an amazing pitcher."
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Needing a win to advance to the title game, starter Thomas Manty and slugger Danny Regan delivered in a big way on Saturday.
Manty provided an outstanding start, and Regan blasted a grand slam to lead Andover American to a 5-2 victory over Saugus American and a berth in the championship game of the District 4 tourney.
"Manty was huge for us," said Andover coach Dave Metzemaekers. "We were limited in pitching and we needed Thomas to come up big for us and he did. He was amazing tonight."
Manty was masterful over 5 2/3 innings. The youngster struck out eight and never faced any major trouble on the day. Caeden Dillman came on in relief and retired the final batter, needed just two pitches to earn the save.
"I told him we were going with only two pitches (fastball and curveball)," said Metzemaekers. "After he got the last out he came back to me and said, 'Coach, I only needed to throw two pitches.'"
The clutch-hitting Regan put Andover ahead to stay in the third inning.
Kyle Vumbaco opened the inning with a walk, followed by a Manty singe and a walk for John Metzemaekers. Regan then stepped to the plate and blasted a grand slam over the fence in right field, his second homer of the district tourney.
Regan delivered American's other run in the fourth. Dillman walked, moved to second on a Metzemaekers walk and scored on a Regan single to right-center field.
"We always seem to have runners on in front of Danny and that's always important," said Dave Metzemaekers. "He's been our sparkplug. Everyone has contributed, but when we have needed a big hit, Danny has delivered."
The defensive player of the day was Josh Gruenburg. Normally an outfielder, Gruenburg — who throws lefty — played very well at second base. Dillman also received rave reviews for his work at shortstop.
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Andover American blasted two home runs in the first inning, erasing the memory of their opening game struggles and kept rolling in the second, blasting Danvers 17-7 in the second game of the District 4 tourney on Friday.
"These boys are relentless," said coach Dave Metzemaekers. "They were more focused and they played with a lot of hustle and heart."
Danny Regan opened the attack, blasting a two-run homer, and Will Needham followed with a solo shot to make the score 3-0 before the first was over. Zach Smith continued the assault in the second with a homer, the first of eight straight Andover players to reach and score in the inning.
Regan again led the attack, going 3 for 4 with his homer, two doubles and five RBIs. Kyle Vumbaco added three hits of his own.
Andover used six different pitchers to lock up the win, none going more than 1 2/3 innings.
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The District 4 tourney opened in tough fashion for Andover, falling to Acton-Boxboro 11-1 on Wednesday.
"We came our kind of flat and Acton-Boxboro is a very good team," said Andover coach David Metzemaekers. "We didn't play our best game."
Andover scored its lone run in the third. Thomas Manty reached base on a third strike that was dropped by the catcher. He them moved into scoring position on a single by Metzemaekers and scored when Josh Gruenburg reached on an error.
Owen Moser managed the other hit, a double for the Andover squad.
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