DANVERS– The Swampscott Sox bats came alive in a 10-0 mercy-rule win over the Peabody Champions in game three of the best-of-five North Shore Baseball League semifinal series at Twi Field Monday night.
With the win, the Sox take a 2-1 series lead over Peabody and are one win away from advancing to the NSBL finals.
“We have scored 30 runs in the last three games, which is a big difference from last series and the regular season,” Swampscott manager Joe Caponigro said. “Our bats have come alive at the right time, but by no means is this series over. It’s going to be a battle and hopefully things keep going our way.”
At the plate the Sox were led by Elvis Rodriguez (2-for-4 with 3 RBI), who roped a two-run home run in the first inning. Brian Maynard (1-for-1, 1 RBI) and Richie Arias (2-for-2, two-run home run and 3 RBI) also led the way offensively for Swampscott. Lou Olivieri, Clemente Parra and Ryan Healey each added 1 RBI apiece.
On the mound, pitcher Corey Bleau threw all five innings of the shortened game for Swampscott. Bleau allowed one hit while walking four.
“Corey did a tremendous job, just as be did in game one last series against the Phillies,” Caponigro said. “It was a shortened game but still he threw a shutout against a very good hitting team. They hit some hard balls at people but that’s baseball and we made the plays.”
The Champions must now win two consecutive games in order to advance to the finals.
“You can’t win when you get one hit,” Peabody co-manager Steve Gridley said. “No matter what, if you don’t hit you don’t win. If you can’t score runs you’re not going to win a baseball game.
“They have been hitting fine and we keep making mistakes throwing to [Rodriguez] and we have to make adjustments defensively and pitching to get him out,” Gridley added. “We better or the series will be over Wednesday.”
The Sox got things started early in the first inning. Donnie Weisse singled and Rodriguez laced a two-run home run to left to put Swampscott up 2-0. Maynard followed with a double and, after stealing third, scored on a passed ball to extend the lead to 3-0.
A two-out single by Mark Shorey and back-to-back walks to Chad Martin and Zach Keenan loaded the bases for Peabody in the bottom half of the first. However, the Champions couldn’t capitalize on their biggest scoring chance of the night, keeping the deficit at 3-0.
The Sox had another big inning in the second. Esteban Paula started things off with a walk and Weisse reached on a single to start the inning. Rodriguez added his third RBI of the game on a single and Maynard recorded a sac-fly to extend the lead to 5-0. The next batter, Arias, hit a two-run home run to left to put the Sox up 7-0.
Maynard got things started for the Sox again in the fifth with a walk and Arias reached base with a single. The next three batters all drove in runs, Olivieri with a RBI single, Parra with a RBI double and Healey with a sac-fly, to put the Sox well ahead at 10-0.
Peabody couldn’t get anything going offensively in its half of the fifth, giving Swampscott the 10-0 mercy-rule win and the series lead.
“I have faith that we will make the adjustments,” Gridley said. “They have to beat us twice, if they can I’ll tip my hat but I’ll take us to win two in a row absolutely.”
“We’re getting the timely hits right now, making the plays and throwing strikes and that’s our focus going forward,” Caponigro said.
Peabody and Swampscott will meet for game four Wednesday night (7:30) at Swampscott Middle School.