SWAMPSCOTT — The Peabody West All-Stars had a little bit of everything going for them Thursday night to remain undefeated in the District 16 Tournament, defeating Pine Hill, 9-1, at Swampscott Middle School.
The game was closer than the score, but timely hitting, a dominant pitching performance from Nick Villano (9 strikeouts), and a couple of big breaks that went Peabody’s way were the difference.
Peabody broke a 1-1 tie wide open in the middle innings when West scored three runs on an inside-the-park home run by Josh Scali in the third inning and a 3-run triple by Villano in the fourth. Pine Hill’s right fielder had no chance to make a play on either ball because of brutal sun conditions.
“I’d like to think it was our kids, but especially on Scali’s ball you could see their right fielder couldn’t see it off the bat right away,” said Peabody manager Steve Porcella. “He just never saw those balls in the sun.”
Peabody took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a RBI single up the middle by Villano (2-for-3, 4 RBI) that scored Thomas Fabbo, who reached on a fielder’s choice.
Pine Hill matched it with a run in the bottom of the second inning. Nicky Rogers singled and scored on Chris Ciampa’s line-drive double to tie the game, 1-1.
In the third, Fabbo and Jayce Dooley set the table for Scali, who ripped a long fly ball to right that was lost in the sun. Scali never stopped and scored standing up to put Peabody on top, 4-1.
It was deja vu in the fourth. Villano cleared the bases with a fly ball to the same spot to make it 6-1. Scoring on the play were Jacob Behn, on base with a fielder’s choice, Fabbo (single) and Dooley (walk).
After Villano reached his pitch count limit in the bottom of the fifth, Fabbo came on in relief. He gave up a single to Juniel Guzman to load the bases, but escaped unscathed with a strikeout. He finished strong, striking out the side in the final inning, the only blemish being a 1-out double by Dougie Robbins.
Guzman started for Pine Hill and left the game when it was tied 1-1 in the fourth. He had a big day at the plate going 3-for-3 to account for half of Pine Hill’s six hits.
“We got down by too much too early, but we had some solid hits but just couldn’t put them together yet the kids fought hard,” said Pine Hill acting manager Joe Driscoll. “Guzman, he’s our horse, but once he reached his pitch count, and we were down by seven or eight runs, at that point it’s a matter of using as many pitchers as possible to keep them available, so that’s what we did. It’s been a long time since Pine Hill has been in this position, so we still have some baseball left this season.”
For Peabody, Jacob Behn brought home a run with a base-loaded walk in the fifth and Anthony Herbert drove in West’s final run with a single in the top of the sixth.
“Villano has been a rock for us all season, ” said Porcella. “He pitched a gem tonight. He conserved us a lot of energy.”
Peabody’s next game is scheduled for Saturday against the winner of Friday’s game between Lynnfield and Swampscott.
Pine Hill moves into the losers’ bracket and will play the winner of Sunday’s game between Nahant and Salem (TBA).