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Swampscott Sox gear up for title run

Caponigro giving a high five to Elvis Rodriguez as he rounds the bases on a home run. (Item file photo)

SWAMPSCOTT — The North Shore Baseball League season will come to a head over the course of the coming week, and it’s only appropriate that the two teams ranked at the top of the standings will be battling it out for the league title.

Tonight at Swampscott Middle School, the No. 1 Swampscott Sox and the No. 2 Kingston Night Owls will kick off a 7-game series to decide the 2017 NSBL championship. It’s been a long road for each team in getting to this point.

The top-ranked Sox, who have home-field advantage, moved quickly through their first-round series against Marblehead before a semifinal showdown with the rival Peabody Champions.

It looked like the semifinals would go the same way, with the Sox taking the first two games of the five-game series. Peabody ended up roaring back with two straight wins to force a game five, but the home-field advantage ended up working in Swampscott’s favor. Led by their top starter Ben Kendrew, the Sox powered to a 7-1 win and captured the series.

Swampscott has a strong balance of hitting on the roster, blending power and average to drive in a lot of runs. With players such as Kyle O’Connor, Louis Olivieri, Ryan Healey, Brian Maynard, Esteban Paula and others leading the way, the Sox are going to look to put the pressure on Kingston’s pitching. Many of the players on the Sox were first introduced to manager Joe Caponigro when they played for him at Lynn English. Caponigro coached the Bulldogs from 2004 through the spring before stepping down.

The Sox will look to Kendrew and Mike Richardson to lead the way on the mound in this series.

For Kingston, experience is on its side. There are a host of players on the Night Owls who have playoff experience, which especially came to light in their opening round series against the much younger Saugus Wings. After Saugus took the first game, Kingston battled back to two straight wins to move on to the semifinals. The Night Owls ran into the same situation there, dropping Game 1 to Beverly, but Kingston answered with three straight wins to move on to the championship series.

The Night Owls have a strong middle of the order led by the Morin brothers, Dan and Joe, and Colin Walsh. Nick Comei adds hitting for average and speed at the top of the order, in addition to a stellar glove at shortstop.

It’s sure to be an exciting series, with a serious potential of going the full seven games. The Sox and the Night Owls will kick off their series tonight at 7 p.m. under the lights at Swampscott Middle School.

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