MEDFORD — Monday night’s Division 1 North baseball quarterfinals between No. 7 Peabody and No. 2 Medford was a back-and-forth offensive affair with Medford eventually holding on for the 8-5 win.
“Medford is a good baseball team,” Peabody head coach Mark Bettencourt said. “I think both teams fought hard. There were a couple lead changes and momentum swung both ways, it swung their way at the end there.”
“Spectacular high school baseball game on both sides. Both teams just competed,” Medford head coach Mike Nestor said. “They took it to us but we are resilient and we battled back.”
For Peabody, Jake Gustin (2-for-3 with a walk and two RBI) and Joe Gilmartin (3-for-3 with two RBI) led the way for the Tanners on offense. Peabody starting pitcher Alex D’Angelo went for five innings, allowing three earned runs while recording seven strikeouts and allowing two walks.
The Mustangs started the scoring in the second inning when Gino Desimone smashed a solo home-run for a 1-0 lead.
It didn’t take Peabody long to answer as Gilmartin stepped up to the plate in the third inning with bases loaded and recorded a base hit, scoring two runs. A wild throw on an attempt to pick off Gilmartin at first would send Gustin home from third later in the inning, giving the Tanners a 3-1 lead.
In the next half inning Medford would narrow the lead to 3-2 thanks to an RBI double by Harry Welch. Medford’s Brendon Kelley would tie the game at three with an RBI in the fourth, putting men on second and third with no outs for the Mustangs. However, D’Angelo battled back, striking out the next two batters and then picking off Kelley at second to keep the score tied.
With men on first and second for Peabody in the fifth inning Medford pulled starter Jake Fargo for relief pitcher Jacob Whistler. The change proved to be a favorable matchup for Peabody’s Gustin, who smacked a double to left-center field, driving in two runs and giving Peabody a 5-3 lead before he was thrown out trying to extend the hit into a triple.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, with D’Angelo’s pitch count climbing, Bettencourt decided to hand the ball to pitcher Eddie Campbell in relief.
The Mustangs took the pitching change in stride, going on to score 4 runs thanks to RBI doubles by Ryan Donahue and Kelley and a misplayed ball in center field hit by Zach Paolillo that scored two runs. Peabody pitcher Joe Zito would come in to close the inning but Medford would tack on one more run off a passed ball to take a 8-5 lead.
“We had to make a decision about keeping our starter in for a triple digit pitch count or go to our hot hand and we went to our hot hand,” Bettencourt said. “Medford was ready for him and they scored when they needed to score and put up big hits when they needed them.”
Peabody would have no offensive answer in the seventh, ending their hard-fought season.
“I’m very proud of our kids,” Bettencourt said. “We dealt with some things over the season that we were able to fight through and at the end of the season to get this far and fight with a good Medford team until the end, I’m very proud of our guys and I wish nothing but the best to Medford.”