PERFECT POOL PLAY: Gloucester advances to semifinals in District 15 Williamsport Tournament

Jul. 7—MANCHESTER — Gloucester's Williamsport All-Star baseball team got through its firs two pool play games behind a dominant offense, which averaged over 11 runs per game coming into Tuesday's pool play finale against Ipswich.

On Tuesday, however, Ipswich pitchers Graham McNamara and Aaron Guarino kept the powerful Gloucester offense at bay for most of the night. Until the bottom of the sixth inning.

With the score tied, Gloucester's Nico Alves went with an outside fastball and took it over the right field fence for a walk-off three-run homer and a 4-1 Gloucester win at Sweeney Park.

"We've been swinging a hot bat but those Ipswich pitchers really kept us off balance," Gloucester manage Dave Alves said. "We finally got something going in the last inning. Luckily our pitching and defense were good all night to keep us in it until the last rally."

With the win, Gloucester finishes first in Pool B with a 3-0 record and will advance to the semifinal round, which begins on Thursday night (time and locations TBA). Gloucester will join Manchester Essex, Amesbury and a yet to be determined Pool B team in the semifinal round, which is a double-elimination format. Thursday night's game will be picked via random draw and the matchups have not yet been determined.

Tuesday's loss eliminates Ipswich, which finishes up at 1-2.

"We played well, especially pitching and defense, but we just had one inning we'd like to have back," Ipswich manager Adam McNamara said. "It was a good game against a good team, they just got the better of us."

The score was tied, 1-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning when Gloucester put together the winning rally.

Nash Marshall got things started with a one-out double down the line in left field. Conor Mahoney followed with a walk setting the stage for Alves, who delivered the walk-off homer.

Gloucester also got off to a strong start with a run in the bottom of the first thanks to some aggressive baserunning. After Alves went first-to-third on a Trey Marrone two-out single, he came in to score on a throw to second after Marrone was purposely hung up between the first and second base bag, buying time for Alves to come in for a 1-0 Gloucester lead.

Ipswich got the equalizer in the fourth when Ben DeFrank reached on a single, moved up on a fielder's choice and a dropped third strike before coming in to score on a throwing error when Gloucester attempted to pick a runner off first base.

The rest of the night was ruled by the pitchers. Gloucester's Will Johnson got the start and went two scoreless before giving way to Alves, who allowed a run in 3 1/3 innings of work, striking out seven.

Ipswich's best chance to take the lead came in the top of the sixth, when Charlie Morrison was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, them moved to second on a wild pitch and third on a fielder's choice. Jude Szuter then came out of the Gloucester bullpen and struck out two to get out of the jam and eventually earn the win.

"Our pitching was great tonight," Alves said. "Will was on in the first two innings then we went to Nico who kept us in it and Jude got those two huge outs which kept the game tied in a big spot. We have been playing an all around game and it was huge for us tonight."

Not to be outdone, Ipswich got a big performance from McNamara, who allowed a run on one hit in three innings of work. He also made a great diving catch in center field to take extra bases away from Alves on fourth inning fly ball. Aaron Guarino then went 2 1/3 innings of work, tossing two scoreless before two batters reached in the sixth.

Ipswich third baseman Callum Schofield had a big day defensively, guarding the line and snatching two hard hit liners and a hard hit grounder down the line for an out.