LYNN — It took five innings, but Beverly finally figured out the riddle that was Joe Phinney.
The District 15 champions ruined a stellar performance by the North Andover reliever, scoring three unearned runs in the top of the eighth for a 6-3 victory at Wyoma Park. Beverly’s victory, which came one day after a loss to Peabody, tightened the four-team Section 4 Little League tournament.
North Andover East, which defeated Weston 13-9 on Wednesday, probably now must defeat perennial power Peabody in today’s 5:30 p.m. affair to have any chance for a spot in Saturday’s sectional championship which has a state-tournament berth at stake.
The only certainties today are that East likely needs more than the four hits it had and to strand fewer than the 12 base runners it left hanging yesterday.
“Both games were kind of unusual,” North Andover manager Rob Carpentier said of his inconsistent offense. “(Wednesday) was a little unusual (with 13 runs and 15 hits) and (yesterday) was a little unusual.
“It’s been a great experience, and our guys are having a blast. Hey, I still like our chances. Obviously we still have one.”
Phinney provided North Andover its chance against Beverly.
After falling behind 3-0 through two innings, East turned to Phinney with a runner on first and no outs in the third. The reliever then hurled four innings of no-hit ball, facing only three batters above the minimum before getting tagged in the eighth.
“He really answered the bell,” Carpentier said of Phinney, who struck out three. “We wrestled with whether we should start him or not. Our thought was if we could get a few innings out of anyone else, which we did with Jack Bourassa (who left after walking the leadoff hitter in the third), we’d be very comfortable coming to Phinney if we ever got in trouble.”