PEABODY — The 15-year old Peabody Babe Ruth all-stars brought their heavy bats to the ballpark Wednesday, turning on the jets early and rolling to a 10-0 win in a shortened game against the Lynn 15’s in the District 16 sectional tournament. In addition to the hot bats, Peabody got a stellar pitching performance from Alex Gonzalez, making this a solid all-around team win.
“We always play tough against the Lynn kids every single year. We’re always 1 and 2 in the league and it’s usually a really close game, but this year our bats were just on fire,” said Peabody manager Don Ligh. “Everybody up and down the lineup produced offensively tonight, we played great defense and got great pitching. It was a great win.”
Gonzalez pitched all five innings for Peabody, giving up just two hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Both hits he gave up came in the first inning.
“He’s always great, and he showed it again tonight,” Ligh said of Gonzalez. “The first game he pitched he had a 70-pitch complete game, and today he threw 65 pitches. He works fast and is always efficient out there.”
Gonzalez also went 1-for-3 with an RBI in the win, but Peabody’s offense was led by Anthony Conforti (2-for-3) and Christian Loescher (1-for-2), both of whom had three RBI. Cam Cuzzi (1-for-2) added two RBI, while Nic Fiory (1-for-2) had one RBI.
“There’s just no other way to say it, they kicked our butts today,” Lynn manager Dave Galeazzi said. “We had a couple opportunities in the first and second inning to get to Gonzalez but we couldn’t come up with the big hit, then he settled into a groove out there. Give credit to Peabody, they really took it to us today.”
The Lynn 15’s looked like they were going to get off to a good start in the top of the first, moving runners to first and second with two outs on back-to-back singles by Lucas Fritz and Luke Mannion. But then, Gonzalez buckled down and forced a groundout to end the inning unscathed.
Peabody took that momentum right into the bottom of the first. Scott Emerson singled to lead off and then advanced to second on a passed ball before Gonzalez knocked him home with an RBI single. A strikeout, a hit batter and a single loaded up the bases with two outs for Loescher, who laced a two-run single up the middle to put Peabody up 3-0. After the next batter walked to load the bases again, Cuzzi made it 5-0 with his two-run single.
The Peabody 15’s came right back with more firepower in the bottom of the second. A walk and a hit batter put two men on for Conforti, who knocked a two-run double all the way out to the centerfield fence to go up 7-0.
In the bottom of the third, Fiory came through with an RBI single to extend Peabody’s lead to eight runs.
Finally, in the bottom of the fourth, Peabody scored two more runs. Back-to-back singles put two runners on for Conforti, who earned his third RBI with a groundout. Loescher followed with an RBI sacrifice fly to make the score 10-0.
From there, Gonzalez simply needed to work through the top of the fifth to give his team the win. He did just that, forcing a groundout and then striking out the final two hitters to earn the victory.
The win effectively clinches the District 16 title for Peabody, although the 15’s still technically have one more game to play before states. They’re now at 2-0, meaning the worst they can finish is at 2-1. And since Lynn (who gets an automatic bid for hosting the state tournament) is now 2-1, Peabody will own that head-to-head tiebreaker no matter what.
“It feels good, but now we’re on to states,” Ligh said. “We’ve just got to stay focused and keep this good play going.”
And for Lynn, losing by this type of margin is a new phenomenon. But, as Galeazzi puts it, maybe this is exactly what the team needs heading into states.
“No one wants to lose by 10 runs, especially in an elite competition like this,” Galeazzi said. “So maybe that’s something we needed. The past couple of years this team has gone pretty far and we’ve never lost a game like that, so maybe this is something we can now use as a motivator.”
The Babe Ruth state tournament will begin Friday, July 6.
Peabody West 5, Wyoma 0
Peabody earned a shutout win over Wyoma in District 16 action.
“It wasn’t a great hitting game by either team but we got the hits when we needed them and got good pitching,” said West manager Steve Porcello. “We got contributions from everybody and the kids rose to the occasion.”
Peabody scored in the first when Thomas Fabbo was hit by a pitch and scored on a wild pitch.
Peabody broke the game open in the third, sending 10 batters to the plate with four of them scoring.
Starting pitcher Jayce Dooley led off with home run. With two outs, Andy Bousquet and Jacob Behn drew back-to-back walks, then pinch-hitter Alex Jackson knocked Bousquet home with a double to left. Behn scored on a wild pitch and Jackson scored on a bases-loaded walk to Fabbo.
Dooley (3 1/3 innings, 5 strikeouts, 6 walks, 1 hit) and Nick Villano (2 1/3 innings, 5 strikeouts, walk) combined for the win.
Wyoma’s only hit was leadoff single by Chris Marks in the second. Only one Wyoma runner reached second base, thanks to Peabody catcher Andy Bousquet , who gunned down two Wyoma runners attempting to steal second.
“We had one bad inning and couldn’t get a hit when we needed it,” Wyoma coach John Meklis said. “We are a good hitting team and I am confident we can shake this one off and that our bats will come alive.”
Peabody 5, Wyoma 0
When it comes to perfect games, it’s getting to be a habit for 12-year-old Abby Bettencourt, who threw her second perfect game in three years, leading Peabody’s 12-year-old softball all-stars to a 5-0 win over Wyoma. Peabody captured the District 16 championship with the win.
Bettencourt struck out 12 Wyoma batters and sealed the no-no on the final batter. Three years ago at the age of nine, Bettencourt threw a perfect game in the sectional championship game at Woburn.
Avery Greco’s 2-run single in the bottom of the third gave the Tanners all the runs they needed.
“It was incredible to see the kids pull it off,” said coach Mark Bettencourt. “They played great defense all-around. I’ve been a part of three perfect games and two of them have been thrown by Abby (the other one was thrown by Peabody High’s Alex D’Angelo in 2017) and I can tell you it never gets old.”
Peabody moves on to the first round of the sectional tournament Sunday, July 1 at 5:45 at home against District 13 champion Woburn.