BEVERLY — The bats finally came alive for the Peabody Little League team and the magic seemed to run out for Lynn on Wednesday night, as Peabody earned a 9-3 win to capture the Gallant Tournament championship at Harry Ball Field.
Peabody ace Justin Powers earned tournament MVP honors, and he showed why on Wednesday night. Powers tossed a complete game and gave up three runs on six hits with 16 strikeouts to earn the win on the mound. He also had a home run and two RBI at the plate.
“I can’t say enough about Justin’s performance, he was on another level tonight,” said Peabody manager Gary Lynch. “He showed up today and said he wanted to pitch the whole game and he wasn’t coming out. Then what he did at the plate as well, you couldn’t ask for anything more.”
For Lynn, who unfortunately lost Yordy Contreras to an injury after he was struck in the face by a pitch in the second inning, the magic that lifted them to win after win over the course of the tournament ran out of steam.
“Whatever we had that was keeping us going to this point must’ve run out tonight,” said Lynn manager Jeff Earp. “Give Peabody all the credit in the world, they’re a great team and we ran into a great pitcher tonight. These guys kept fighting the whole game and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Peabody came right out and got on the board early. After Ryan Brunet singled, Powers stepped in and launched a two-run homer over the left-centerfield fence to take an early 2-0 lead. Tyler Fawcett followed with a double, then Daniel Zizza knocked him home with a double of his own to make it 3-0.
Lynn answered back in the bottom of the first. David Brown walked and then starting pitcher Shea Palmer brought him home with an RBI double to make it 3-1.
After Palmer moved 1-2-3 through the top of the second, Lynn continued to chip away in the bottom of the second. Two walks and a single loaded up the bases with two outs, then Brown drew an RBI walk and Yordy Contreras brought in another run when he was hit in the face by a pitch, tying the game. Unfortunately for Lynn, Contreras was not able to continue playing due to injury.
“Obviously it was really tough to lose Yordy,” Earp said. “Not only is he a great player, but he’s just a great kid, and to see him get hurt like that was tough for a lot of our guys. But from what I’ve heard it looks like he’s going to be okay, and that’s all that really matters.”
The tie didn’t last long, however, as Peabody’s bats came alive in the fourth inning. Jeff Roach started things off with an RBI single, followed by back-to-back RBI singles from Joe Raymond and Thomas Fabbo. After Brunet stepped in and smacked a two-run single, Peabody held an 8-3 lead.
“It was great to see us string all those hits together to get that big inning,” said Lynch. “We hadn’t been doing much of that over the past couple games, so that was certainly a big help.”
Lynn was only able to threaten one more time, moving runners to second and third with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, but Powers was able to shut the door with a strikeout.
Peabody added one final insurance run in the top of the seventh inning on an RBI sacrifice fly from Fawcett. After Powers earned three more strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh to end it, Peabody was able to raise the trophy.
Lynch felt good about this team from the start of the tournament, and he quietly expected his team to perform well.
“We knew this was a great team from the beginning,” Lynch said of his team, which is a combination of the Peabody and Peabody West Little League All-Stars that met in the District 16 final. “I thought the whole time that we had a real chance to go all the way, and these guys put in the work to make it happen. I couldn’t be prouder.”
Lynch also took the time to thank Beverly Little League and all the volunteers who made the Gallant Tournament happen.
“This is such a great tournament every year, and even this year with the move to a new field things went off without a hitch,” he said. “We’re always proud to be a part of it, and we can’t wait to be back next year.”