LYNN — The North Andover East 12-year-old Little League team is in a familiar role beginning today at Wyoma Little League Field for the sectional tournament — underdogs.
North Andover East is the new kid in town, having never won the District 14 championship before. And it will face at least two Little League powerhouses — Stoneham and Peabody West — in this weekend's double-elimination tournament.
North Andover, which beat the Andover Nationals (3-2) on Sunday in the finale of the best of three series, plays Stoneham today at 2 p.m. Stoneham has represented District 13 for three consecutive years.
NA East will send Max Burt to the mound for the opener. The squad has won all five games he has pitched.
"We need Max to be at his best, which means being around the plate and keeping hitters off balance," said the NA East manager Bill Burt.
The "team to beat" in this four-team tournament, which also includes Lynnfield, is Peabody West.
It won its district, outscoring the competition 49-2 over five games, all victories, including an 11-1 win over Beverly East in the district championship game last weekend. By comparison, North Andover East had seven of its nine district games decided by two runs or less, including two in extra innings.
"We have hit four home runs thus far over nine games," said Burt. "From what I've heard Peabody West has about four kids with at least four homers apiece."
NA East's offense is led by Matt Moody, Max Burt, Marc Patnaude, Ryan St. Pierre and Joey Bramanti. Recently, Chris Bosco, who has had a key hit in the last three of NA East wins, has also been a key contributor with the bat.
Bramanti, St. Pierre and the Patnaude brothers, Marc and Todd, will all probably see action on the mound the next few days.