Swampscott Sox take NSBL series lead against Champions

SWAMPSCOTT ? For the Swampscott Sox, the story of Friday’s Game 3 of the North Shore Baseball League’s championship series was the gutsy pitching of Joe Breen.For the Peabody Champions, it was a case of missed opportunities.With their 4-1 win, the Sox took a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven series, which continues Sunday (8) at Twi Field in Danvers. Breen allowed just three hits, but had to pitch around several jams, including a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the top of the third, after Peabody had already scored its lone run.”We gave them what, seven outs in that inning?” Swampscott manager Joe Caponigro said. “(Breen has) pitched great all year for us. He threw nine great innings on Sunday (in a 2-1 win for the Sox in Game 1). I can’t say enough good things about what he’s done for us.”Peabody stranded a total of seven runners, and had at least one runner in scoring position in each of the first five innings.”We’ve got to hit the ball, especially me,” said Champions player/manager Michael Giardi, who was 0-for-2 with an HBP but hardly the only Peabody player who didn’t come through. “We’ve gotten the pitching, we just haven’t been able to come up with the big hits.”The Sox’ offense was led by Jason Blydell and Angelo Salustri, who each had a solo home run off Peabody pitcher Dan Glabicky. Chris Carr also chipped in with an RBI single, while Swampscott’s fourth run was unearned.Peabody broke on top with a run in the third when Jon Blodgett drew a leadoff walk, went to second on a passed ball, took third on a wild pickoff throw by Breen and scored when Keith Cooper bounced a single to left field.After Cooper was caught stealing, Peabody loaded the bases on an infield single by Brian Marshall, an error and an HBP, but Breen struck out Zach Keenan and Derek Lyons to end the inning.With one out in the bottom of the third, Chris Oram reached on an infield single and went to second on a walk to Tony Nicosia. Jason Blydell reached on another infield single to load the bases, and Jason Tarasuik followed with a grounder down the line to Keenan at first base. After a bobble, Keenan threw home, but the ball struck Tarasuik and everyone was safe, with Oram scoring to tie the game.Carr followed with a hit to right to score Nicosia, but a terrific throw by Kyle Multner nailed Blydell at the plate.Peabody’s best chance to score came in the fifth when Breen hit Marshall and Garrett Greer to open the inning, but Breen retired the next three batters without the ball leaving the infield. Breen ended up setting down eight of the last nine hitters he faced, with the lone runner wiped out on a game-ending double play started by Breen himself.Blydell led off the bottom of the fifth with a titanic home run over the fence in right, while Salustri’s homer in the sixth went to left.”How about 45-year-old Angie Salustri (going deep)?” Caponigro said. “He plays sparingly, but when he plays, he contributes.”The win gives the Sox an edge, but Caponigro said he expects the series to last the full seven games. The two clubs have combined to win 15 of the last 16 NBSL titles, with Swampscott winning eight times to Peabody’s seven.”Anything can happen,” Caponigro said. “They’re such a good team. We hope it goes seven, because that will mean we’re still in it.”

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