Patrick Maguire pitched six strong innings for the Tanners in the loss to Malden Catholic.
By HAROLD RIVERA
MALDEN — The Peabody baseball team got off to an ideal start in Thursday afternoon’s game at Malden Catholic. The Tanners scored five runs in the top of the first and looked as if they were set to run away from the Lancers early.
That didn’t turn out to be the case.
The Lancers tied the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the fourth and won it in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the eighth, 7-6, on an RBI-single from No. 5 hitter Ian Libby to stun the Tanners. Libby’s single capped off a 2-run Lancer rally after Peabody scored once in the top half of the frame for the 6-5 lead.
For Peabody, Thursday’s loss is the second in a row in which the Tanners went down in walkoff fashion. They lost to Gloucester, 10-9, on Wednesday.
“We have to find a way to win these games,” Tanners coach Mark Bettencourt said. “We went up on Gloucester in the seventh and they scored two in the seventh. Today we went up one in the eighth and they scored two in the eighth. We have to find a way to overcome that and finish these games.”
To Malden Catholic’s credit, starting pitcher Nick Lepore bounced back after surrendering the five runs. Lepore tossed five innings and didn’t allow a hit in his final four. He fanned five Peabody batters in the process.
“It was very impressive the way Lepore settled down,” Bettencourt said. “He was probably one pitch away from being taken out of the game, a couple different times. He just kept his focus, his composure, his rhythm, and he did the job.”
Chris Gillen’s RBI single scored Anthony Iannuzzi to make it 1-0 for Peabody. Jake Doherty followed with a groundout, bringing Jake Gustin home to make it 2-0. With a pair of runners on base, Vincent Orlando hit a laser that rolled past the Lancers outfielders and gave Orlando an inside-the-park home-run. Through half an inning, Malden Catholic faced a 5-0 deficit but the Lancers didn’t back down.
An RBI groundout from Chris Peguero in the bottom of the second put the Lancers on the board at 5-1 and Dave Morrill’s RBI double made it 5-2. Kellen Field and Will Montgomerty drew back-to-back walks from Peabody starter Patrick Maguire, and both came around to score on Jake Horrigan’s 2-RBI triple. That made it a 5-4 game and Peabody’s momentum was beginning to slip away. “When you don’t keep putting nails in the coffin, they find a way to crawl out,” Bettencourt said. “Malden Catholic did that.”
Joseph Ward’s RBI single in the bottom of the fourth scored Morrill to even the game at 5-5.
From there, both teams were kept off the scoreboard until the game went into extra innings. Malden Catholic threatened with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, but Maguire forced a lineout and a groundout to escape the jam.
“That was impressive,” Bettencourt said. “We got a great start from Pat Maguire.”
Iannuzzi’s RBI triple in the eighth reclaimed the lead for the Tanners at 6-5. Iannuzzi rounded third in hopes of giving Peabody its second inside-the-park home-run of the afternoon but he was thrown out at home.
Field led off the bottom of the eighth with a walk and scored on Horrigan’s RBI triple. That set the stage for Libby’s walk-off single, on deep-fly ball that was hit well over the Peabody outfield.
Maguire tossed the first six innings and Alex D’Angelo finished in relief.
The Tanners (12-5) hope to bounce back Sunday at Beverly.