PEABODY — “We never make it easy.”
Those were the first words out of Peabody baseball coach Mark Bettencourt following the No. 7 Tanners’ 3-1 win over No. 10 Lawrence Thursday afternoon at Bezemes Diamond in the opening round of the Division 1 North tournament.
With the win, Peabody advances to the quarterfinals at Medford Monday afternoon (4).
The Tanners logged three hits, all with two outs, but all three were about as clutch as you could get, and the Tanners made the most of them. All three Tanner runs were scored by players who walked. Joe Gilmartin had a big day at the plate with two of the Tanners’ hits and two RBI.
Toss in another impressive complete-game effort from Eddie Campbell (unearned run, 7 hits, strikeout, walk) and quality defense when the Tanners needed it most, and it all added up to the Tanners’ first tournament win in three years. Campbell outdueled Lancers ace Jairo Vasquez.
Lawrence, however, made things interesting in the top of the seventh, taking advantage of a couple of infield errors to pull to within two at 3-1 and the Lancers had two runners in scoring position with two outs, but Campbell slammed the door shut with a ground ball.
Campbell said he never lost faith in his teammates.
“We had a couple of errors, but as long I can keep throwing strikes, I have full confidence in my team to get the next one, and that’s what they did,” he said.
Bettencourt, however, had a different feeling.
“Just when I think the monkey is off our backs, it climbs back it seems,” Bettencourt said. “We had a bunch of good at bats today even though they didn’t get hits, with guys just fouling off pitches. We had to do some bunting today, and Ryan Knight had a big bunt there and Eddie and Joe really stepped up today.”
Gilmartin drove in the their first run of the game with a double in the bottom of the first, scoring Jake Gustin, who walked and stole second.
Gustin came up with a huge hit in the third inning to make it 2-0. Cole Cuzzi led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Ryan Knight. Cuzzi stole third on a dropped third and scored on Gustin’s single.
Gilmartin struck again in the sixth with a RBI single that scored Jake Irvine who walked and swiped second. Campbell started strong, retiring the first eight batters in order. The rest of the game, save for a 1-2-3 fifth, was an adventure.
Campbell got out of a minor jam in the third on a 9-6-5 (Michael Martinez to Gustin to Cuzzi) gunned down Divine Gomez attempting to get to third on 2-out single by Keblar Peralta.
In the sixth, Gustin (from Eric DeMayo) came up with a heads-up play to get Peralta who overslid second base on a steal attempt. Lawrence battled back with a couple of seeing-eye base hits and a walk to load the bases, but a 6-4-3 double play snuffed out the threat.
“That double play was the play of the game,” said Bettencourt. “The momentum had been breezing back and forth for most of the game, but that swung the momentum in our favor just when we needed it. As far as Medford goes, we have been talking about getting another shot at Medford since we lost to them in the regular season, so we get that chance because everything came together for us today. We had all three dynamics going in this game.”