By Cary Shuman
Lynn Manager Jeff Earp had to start building the Gallant Tournament Little League All-Star team a week later than usual this summer. Earp was busy helping the Greater Lynn Babe Ruth All-Stars raise funds for their trip to the Babe Ruth World World Series in North Dakota.
But once Earp and the other coaches turned their focus toward the Gallant, everything clicked well.
The top players from three Lynn Little League organizations were assembled and they had only six practices together to become a team, but as Earp said, “Something happened – these kids listened and learned and more importantly they gelled together.”
The Lynn contingent won five straight games after losing its opener, claiming the 2016 championship with a 5-2 victory over Beverly at Forest River Park in Salem.
Aaron O’Connor, the tournament’s most outstanding player, blasted two home runs in the championship game to help Lynn beat an outstanding Beverly team that had finished third in the Mass. State Little League Tournament. O’Connor had four home runs in the tournament and was clearly one of the best all-around players on the North Shore this season.
Damian Guadarrama also displayed his powerful bat, connecting for a home run in back-to-back fashion with O’Connor in the second inning
Aiven Cabral, the winner of the Lynn Little League Home Run Derby, excelled on the pitcher’s mound in the finale, earning the victory with a solid performance in the seven-inning game.
Christian Moran was also a force throughout the tournament. Moran impressed fans with his pitching, hitting, and fielding and his future is very bright in baseball.
“Christian was one of the leaders of our team and he had a great tournament,” said Manager Jeff Earp.
Lynn showed its determination and spirit on several occasions. The team trailed Salem 2-0 in an elimination game but came back to win in 11 innings in 95-degree weather. Gordo DuVerge, recipient of the Coach’s Award, caught all 11 inning in that memorable contest.
Finally, the Lynn team bested Danvers – a town known for its baseball excellence – and then Beverly on back-to-back nights to take home the title to the city for the fourth time in six years.
“Beating that Beverly team twice was a tremendous accomplishment,” said Earp. “I’m so proud of all the players. They listened. They learned. They battled every day. They came together and bonded. The team had a genuine impact on the coaches and me. I truly look forward to seeing them all play Babe Ruth fall ball and also next spring.”