LYNN — A few innings into its Section 4 opener, things couldn’t have been going better for the North Andover East Little Leaguers.
Before it was over, however, North Andover needed a shut-down relief performance from Jake McElroy and a little long ball from Alex Karelas to fend off Weston’s frenetic rally.
District 14 champion North Andover East squandered almost all of a nine-run, third-inning lead but managed to hold off Weston for a 13-9 victory yesterday at Wyoma Park.
“It wasn’t the way you draw it up when you have a nine-run lead,” North Andover East manager Rob Carpentier said. “But winning (the first game) is great. It puts us in a good position, obviously. Now we get to see what happens.”
North Andover’s second game in the four-team sectional is 5:30 today against Beverly before playing Peabody West on Friday.
A victory in either game would assure East a spot in Saturday’s championship.
NA jumped on Weston with a five-run first highlighted by a pair of two-run homers by Steven Hajjar and Karelas. McElroy provided an 8-0 lead with a three-run blast in the second.
After Weston, which advanced by winning four of five in District 13 play, scored a solo run in the top of the third, East added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the frame on a two-out single by Joe Quinlan that plated Danny Albrect and Connor Gough.
“The bats were going,” said Carpentier, whose squad had at least three hits in each of the first four innings and finished with 15.
But Weston clawed back with an eight-run fourth in which 12 batters faced off against three North Andover pitchers. After Dan Packard retired the lead-off hitter, each of the next eight batters reached base and scored.