Peabody Champions battled their way back into NSBL Finals

Mark Shorey has driven in six runs over the past two games for Peabody. (Item File Photo)

Coming into Wednesday night’s Game 3 of the North Shore Baseball League finals, the Peabody Champions had their backs against the wall. Down 0-2 to the Kingston Night Owls and having allowed 18 runs over the first two games, the Champions needed to turn things around. And that’s exactly what they did.

“It (Game 3) really was a big game for us after our first two performances,” said Peabody co-manager Steve Gridley. “We had some chances in Game 1 that we weren’t able to take advantage of, and Kingston really hit the ball well. Our guys stepped up when they needed to though.”

Peabody went on to score 19 runs over the next two games, including a 10-0 shutout in Game 3, to roar back and tie the best-of-seven series at 2-2. Mike Gallo and Greg Ladd turned in stellar pitching performances in Game 3 and Game 4, respectively. Gallo tossed five innings of one-hit ball in his outing, while Ladd battled through a blister on his throwing hand to pitch five innings and allow just one run on five hits.

“Mike and Greg really did a great job to keep us in both of those games, which is exactly what we needed,” Gridley said.

Meanwhile, Mark Shorey, Chad Martin, BJ Weed and Jon Cahill led the offensive attack over the two-game span. Shorey was the big hitter, going 6-for-8 with six RBI over the course of both games. Cahill and Weed each had four RBI, while Martin contributed three RBI.

“We had been getting guys on base the entire series, but we weren’t able to bring them home in the first two games,” Gridley said. “Once we were able to start coming up with those clutch hits, things snowballed and we were able to put up some big numbers.”

The Champions are stacked with veteran players who’ve been in jams before but the after their Game 2 drubbing the team got together to discuss things that needed to change.

“We usually don’t have many team meetings because we have so many veterans on the team, but after Game 2 it was different,” Gridley said. “We all came together and said, ‘we really need to pick it up out there or we’re going home.’ The sense of urgency was real, and our guys were able to respond to it.”

The two-game winning streak means that this series will go at least six games, with all of the remaining tilts to be played at neutral-site Fraser Field. The Champions should have most if not all of their best pitchers available to go over the final three games, and Gridley’s optimistic that his team can get the job done and bring home a NSBL title.

“It’s exciting for us, and we should have all of our guys ready to go,” Gridley said. “We’re still going to have to go out there and execute. We need to take advantage of situations when we have men on base and we’re going to have to keep playing solid ball in the field and on the mound. If we can do all that, we’ve got a great chance.”

Game 5 of the NSBL finals will be played Saturday night at 8 p.m. at Fraser Field.

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