LYNN — It’s usually safe to bet that whenever the Peabody and Lynn 15-year-old Babe Ruth All-Stars meet, a close game’s in the cards.
That was certainly the case Tuesday night at Breed Middle School, when a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the sixth made the difference in Peabody’s 2-1 state tournament win over Lynn.
Peabody starting pitcher Alex Gonzalez pitched seven stellar innings, allowing just one earned run and fanning five.
“Alex was lights out,” Peabody manager Don Ligh said. “He had 69 pitches in seven innings. The bats came alive at the right time. Lynn’s always a tough team. It’s always a close game when we play them.
“Alex is always on,” Ligh added. “He’s been on every single game. This is his fourth win, his second in states.”
The Lynners found the scoreboard early and grabbed a quick lead. Jared DeFilippo (1-for-3, run) hit a one-out single and advanced to third base after a passed ball and a Peabody errant throw. Nicko Galeazzi (0-for-2, RBI) followed with deep fly to right field, good for a sac-fly scoring DeFilippo for the 1-0 Lynn edge.
That’s how it stayed until Peabody found the scoreboard in the bottom of the second. After loading the bases with one out Matthew Botelho (0-for-1, RBI) hit a RBI groundout, plating Ryan Knight with the game-tying run. Lynn starter Aidan Dow induced a groundout to strand Peabody runners at second and third, keeping game tied at 1-1.
Things settled down through the next few innings. Lynn laced one-out singles in the top of the third (Jackson Nickolau, 1-for-2) and fifth (Dow, 1-for-2) innings but Peabody squashed both chances with 1-4-3 double plays.
“Last year we beat Peabody in this exact game,” Lynn manager Dave Galeazzi said. “It was 2-1 in our favor. Gonzalez, I think the most pitches he had in one inning was 12. On a hot, muggy night like this we like to get the opposing pitcher around 16-17 but he did his job. Everybody did their jobs and it just came down to one or two plays.
Dave Galeazzi added, “It was another typical Lynn-Peabody game.”
On the other side, Dow found his groove. Dow sent Peabody down in order in the bottom of the third and worked his way around a leadoff walk in the fourth.
Peabody threatened in the fifth with runners on first and second. Botelho worked a one-out walk and Christian Plohmbidis followed with a single. After a flyout, Dow picked Plohmbidis off at first to end the threat.
Dow tossed 5 1/3 innings, allowed one earned run on three hits, walked four and struck out six.
Peabody broke the tie in the sixth. Gonzalez walked, Christian Loescher singled and Patrick Hosman was intentionally walked, with two outs, loading the bases for Cam Cuzzi. Cuzzi drew a walk, allowing Gonzalez to cross home plate with the eventual game-winning run.
“Aidan pitched outstanding,” Dave Galeazzi said. “He reached the pitch limit so we had to bring Kyle (Durant) in. We decided to intentionally walk Hosman, who’s probably one of their best players, and we just missed. It’s cliche to say it’s a shame someone had to lose. Unfortunately we lost.”
“It was a good game,” Ligh said. “It was an excellent game. I’m always proud of these boys. The last three years, Lynn has been neck and neck with us.”
Peabody’s 3-1 and awaits the winner of Wednesday evening’s (5:30) tilt between Medford (3-0) and Lynn (2-1) at Breed. With three teams battling for two spots in the “crossover” round, the tiebreaker, if needed, will come down to run differential. A victory for Lynn most likely places the Lynners in the crossover round.