Peabody advances to NSBL finals

Dave Ruggiero drove in one RBI in Thursday's win. (Item File Photo)

DANVERS — After falling behind early, the Peabody Champions powered to a 12-5 win over the Swampscott Sox in Game 5 of a best-of-five series Thursday night at Twi Field

With the win Peabody advances to the North Shore Baseball League finals.

“The last few days we have hit the ball pretty well and that was the difference,” Peabody co-manager Steve Gridley said. “They 10-runned us twice in the series but our bats just went off.”

Peabody totaled 16 hits on the night while drawing four walks. Leadoff batter Dave Ruggiero went 4-for-4 with 2 RBI and scored twice.

“If Ruggiero goes we go,” Gridley said. “He got up there and he was ready to swing the bat and when he’s on base we roll because then we have the middle of our order. Those guys are where we make our money but we got it from everywhere tonight.”

On the mound, relief pitcher Scott Weismann cruised for Peabody. Weismann threw 4 1/3 shutout innings, allowing three hits while striking out eight.

“I’ve been with Scott since he was in high school,” Gridley said. “He is a former Gatorade Player of the Year in this state, pitched at Clemson in the College World Series. His shoulder is a little hurt right now but he came out and absolute shut it down. He was the difference tonight.”

Swampscott’s top of the order, Esteban Paula (1-for-4 with 2 RBI), Donnie Weisse (2-for-3 with a walk and 1 RBI) and Elvis Rodriguez (1-for-3 with a HBP and 2 RBI) drove in five runs, but it wasn’t enough for the Sox.

“We lost to a better team,” Sox manager Joe Caponigro said. “They were deeper, hit the ball better than us, fielded better. We took a 5-1 lead and were looking for a knockout punch but they knocked us out. I wish them the best moving but it’s a tough day for us.”

Peabody started the bottom of the first with three straight singles to load the bases. Chad Martin then sent Ruggiero home on a sac-fly to put the Champions up 1-0.

Swampscott responded with a big second inning. Three walks in the inning loaded the bases with two outs. Paula then laced a single to left field to put the Sox up 2-1. The next batter, Weisse also hit a single to extend the lead to 3-1. Rodriguez then added two more runs with a double to put the Sox up 5-1.

Peabody took the lead right back with seven runs in their half of the second. The inning was highlighted by a passed ball and errant throw that cut the lead to 5-4. Martin tied the game at 5-5 with a RBI double. Derek Lyons added another run on a passed ball to put Peabody up 6-5. Another two runs were added on an error in center, making it 8-5 before Swampscott ended the inning.

A walk and two infield errors loaded the bases for Swampscott with one out in the fourth inning. However, the Sox couldn’t capitalize on the scoring chance.

Peabody added four more runs in the fourth to go up 12-5. The inning was highlighted by a two RBI double by Ruggiero.

That was all Peabody needed to secure the win. Peabody advances to the NSBL finals against the Kingston Night Owls.

“We played them a few years ago and they beat us in game seven,” Gridley said. “They’ve won three of the last four championships. They’re going to be a challenge. Those guys know what they are doing but so do we. If we hit and pitch like tonight I like our chances.”

More Stories From Peabody