ANDOVER — It was a night of firsts for the Peabody West 12-year-old All Stars Wednesday in the opening round of the District 4 Little League Tournament at Deyermond Park.
West played from behind for the first time all season. Down to its last three outs, West trailed Danvers National by two runs but rallied to score three runs in a come-from-behind 6-5 victory.
Josh Scali was the man of the hour. With Thomas Fabbo on second and Jayce Dooley at third, he ripped a 2-run, walkoff single to bring home the tying and game-winning runs.
But that’s not all Scali did. He smashed the first home run of his Little League career in the first inning. He also got the job done on the mound, coming on in relief of starter Nick Villano in the top of the fifth to earn the win.
“Josh Scali has been rock solid for us all year long, and that was the first home run he ever hit,” said West manager Steve Porcella. “He gave up a run in the top of the sixth, yes, but he finished strong and just throws strikes. He gave us just what we needed to get this win tonight, and that home run really sparked us. The kids had never been in a position of playing from behind but they never gave up.”
West got off to a great start and led 3-1 after one inning. With two outs, Nick Villano drilled the first pitch he saw over the center field fence scoring Dooley, on base with a fielder’s choice. One pitch later, Scali ripped a fast ball over the left field fence to make it 3-1 West.
West’s lead didn’t last long as Danvers came back with three runs in the top of the second to regain the lead, 4-3, when Dooley struggled to find the plate. After leadoff hitter Jake Semons smacked a 2-run single, Dooley was relieved by Villano and escaped the jam, thanks to Dooley, who moved to center field and threw out Semons attempting to get to third on a single by Steven Reardon.
“The timing was unbelievable,” said Porcella. “Jayce had just gone to center field on that batter and he made a great throw to cut down that runner.”
Villano settled in and retired seven straight batters before being lifted for Scali with one out in the fifth.
After Danvers bumped its lead to 5-3 on a RBI double by Jacob Hamel in the top of the sixth, Peabody went to work.
With one out, Jacob Behn and Fabbo (2-for-3, 2 runs) hit back-to-back singles. Dooley (2-for-4, RBI, run) brought Behn home with a single, then Villano (2-for-2, home run, run) was intentionally walked (for the second time) to load the bases for Scali (2-for-4, 3 RBI, home run), who ripped a single to bring home Fabbo with the tying run and Dooley with the game-winner.
“We had to weather the storm and held our breath in the top of the sixth inning when it was looking pretty hairy, but we knew with the top of our order due up in the bottom of the inning that we could do some damage,” Porcella said. “Our theme all summer has been relentless, that’s become our theme.”
Porcella said a big factor in the game was West’s defense, especially that of Fabbo at short, which played flawlessly without a single error.
“Thomas made some brilliant plays tonight and helped keep us in the game,” he said. “I just don’t know how many more games I can take, but we knew we could come through and we did.”
West continues the pool play tournament with a tilt against District 13 champion Woburn Thursday at 4:30 at Deyermond Park.