ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Kelsie Blake hi-fives Alyssa Alperen during Peabody’s game against Saugus.
By MIKE ALONGI
SAUGUS — Behind a three-run top of the seventh inning, the Peabody softball team took down Saugus, 6-3, at Belmonte Middle School Thursday afternoon.
The big hit for the Tanners came from Kaitlin Thibodeau-Corey, who knocked a two-run double with one out to give Peabody a 5-3 lead.
“It was a great game, well-played by both teams,” said Peabody coach Butch Melanaphy. “What I was really happy about was the way we bounced back. It shows that mentally, we’re on at the right time.”
Tianna Dawe got the win on the mound for the Tanners, tossing a complete game and giving up three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts.
“Tianna was unbelievable, which is kind of surprising considering this is her third start this week,” said Melanaphy. “We don’t want to wear her out, but she’s just so darn good. We’re keeping an eye on her though, we’ll see how she feels tomorrow.”
Besides Thibodeau-Corey, other RBI for Peabody came from Kristina Rossignol, Kelsie Blake and Mallory LeBlanc.
Caitlyn Wood had a solid day on the other side for Saugus, giving up six runs on 13 hits with seven strikeouts in a complete game. Catie Sheehan, Alex Almquist and Emma Howard all had RBIs for the Sachems.
“All in all, I was really happy with the way the girls played today,” said Saugus coach Steve Almquist. “We still made some mental errors out there, some miscommunication, but that happens with a young team. Also give credit to Peabody, they’re a really good team over there and they came up with the big plays when they needed it.”
Peabody came out and got on the board early in the top of the first. After Blake led off the game with a single and stole second, Rossignol lined an RBI single to right field to give the Tanners a 1-0 lead. Rossignol got as far as third base, but was stranded there.
The score remained there until the top of the fourth, when Peabody was able to add two more runs to the board. After Wood retired the first two batters of the inning, Rebecca Sabino kept the inning alive with a single. Lexi Zammer was up next and hit a blooper to left-center field that was dropped by the shortstop. On the play, Sabino rounded third and headed for home, forcing a bad throw from the centerfielder which allowed her to score and make it 2-0. The next batter up was Blake, who hit an RBI single to left to give Peabody a 3-0 lead.
Again, the score remained there for a couple of innings. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, Saugus made its move. Katie Italiano and Taylor Bogdanski led off the inning with back-to-back singles, then Howard and Sheehan hit back-to-back RBI singles to put the Sachems right back in the game at 3-2. Two batters later, Almquist drove in Howard on an RBI groundout, and the game was tied.
That tie didn’t last long, however. In the seventh, the Tanners quickly got runners to second and third with only one out for Thibodeau-Corey, who stepped in a hit a hard grounder that hit third base and bounced high into left field to bring in the eventual game-winning runs. Two batters later, LeBlanc added an insurance run with an RBI single to left field.
Both teams still have plenty of work to do as they hit the home stretch of the season, as the two teams are still fighting for a state tournament berth. Peabody (9-6) is one win away from the tournament with five games to go, starting with English this afternoon.
“We’d really like to get the clinching win tomorrow,” said Melanaphy. “That way we can go into our Senior Day next week and the girls can enjoy it knowing they’re already in instead of fighting for a seed.”
For Saugus (7-7), it will take three more wins over the next six games, some against quality NEC opponents. Next up, however, will be Northeast Regional this afternoon.