LYNN — The Peabody baseball team’s performance on Monday afternoon would make any coach just plain giddy.
Everything clicked for the Tanners at Fraser Field, as they displayed their prowess in pitching, bunting, baserunning, situational hitting and defense in a 4-0 shutout win over Classical.
“It’s funny, because we didn’t execute the fundamentals in the first inning and I was screaming, and then in the third inning I was praising our fundamentals,” said Peabody coach Mark Bettencourt. “But that’s high school baseball. You try to teach the kids the fundamentals, and once they start getting that you can get into the finer points of the game. That’s where we’re at now and it feels great.”
On the pitching side, Peabody starter Joe Gilmartin took a no-hitter into the bottom of the sixth inning, eventually finishing with a complete-game three-hitter with seven strikeouts.
On the hitting side, Gilmartin led the way with two RBI, while Jake Irvine and Cole Cuzzi each added one RBI.
Despite the loss, Classical got a strong performance from David Barnard on the mound. Barnard tossed a complete game, giving up four runs on eight hits with two strikeouts.
“He really battled out there and did a great job,” said Classical coach Mike Zukowski. “Peabody made a couple of perfect plays that got some runs across, and we just couldn’t answer. I was happy with the last half of the game, but it just wasn’t enough. We’ve got to play complete games if we want to beat good teams like that.”
For all the talk about Peabody’s great game, it was actually Classical that got off to the good start in the top of the first. After a Rams error moved Peabody’s leadoff hitter to second base, Irvine tried to bunt the man to third base when he popped one up down the first base line. Classical first baseman Aidan Dow got a great jump on the ball and raced in, making a diving catch. He then jumped up and gunned the ball to second base, where Irvine got caught in no man’s land for a double play.
The minor setback didn’t ruin the day for Peabody, and it was the last time all game that the Tanners would make a mistake on the basepaths.
The top of the third inning for Peabody was one of the most fundamentally sound innings that a team could hope to play. It started with Eddie Campbell’s leadoff double to get into scoring position. Next up was Cuzzi, and the idea was to attempt the same sacrifice play that had backfired in the top of the first. Instead, when Cuzzi saw the third baseman charge the play and the shortstop move over to cover third, he snuck a bunt into the hole between the two for a hit. And with no one there to pick the ball up right away, Campbell rushed all the way around to score from second to go up 1-0.
After a fielder’s choice that got Cuzzi out at second, Evan Mullen reached first base. He then stole both second and third before Irvine knocked him in with an RBI single. Jake Gustin followed with a single, then the Tanners executed a perfect double steal to move runners to second and third. That was when Gilmartin stepped up to the plate and laced a two-run single down the leftfield line to help his own cause and make it 4-0.
“Doing those little things like putting bunts in the right place, executing the double steal when it’s not expected, taking the extra base when we can, those things are really becoming a part of our repertoire now,” Bettencourt said. “Those things, over the course of a season, really make a difference.”
After that, the only hiccup for Peabody came in the bottom of the fourth. Gilmartin, who retired the first 10 Classical batters in order, got a little wild and ended up walking the bases loaded. But all it took was a little trip to the mound from Bettencourt, the only one of the game, to calm Gilmartin down.
“He was in his head a little bit, trying to do too much,” Bettencourt said. “That’s what the visit was for, just to calm him down. Sometimes these kids take a molehill and make a mountain out of it, so you just have to remind them to keep throwing strikes and making pitches. And I think after that visit he threw one pitch and got out of that jam.”
Gilmartin eventually gave up his first hit to Brett Bucklin with one out in the bottom of the sixth. On the next play, the Tanner turned a double play. When Gilmartin gave up another hit in the seventh, the Tanners turned yet another double play. Such was the story of the game for Peabody.
The Tanners are back in action on Wednesday against Lynn English, while Classical will host Revere on Wednesday.