LYNN — The Peabody Champions came into Monday night’s Game 6 of the North Shore Baseball League finals looking to keep their season alive. It wasn’t easy, but mission accomplished.
Peabody’s Chad Martin delivered the game-winning hit on a 2-RBI single in the top of the seventh, leading the Champions to a 4-3 win over the Kingston Night Owls at Fraser Field.
“In my opinion, Chad’s the MVP of the league,” Peabody co-manager Steve Gridley said. “He led the league in home runs, RBI, hit well over .400. He’s done clutch things like that all season.”
With the win, Peabody forced a winner-take-all Game 7 Tuesday night at Fraser.
“Hopefully everybody’s available,” Gridley said. “We’ve lost a couple guys already to school but so has Kingston. We’ll come down and we’ll have everybody that we have that’s with us. We’ve been in a lot of Game 7’s. It’s been a while since we’ve won one, sadly. We’ve lost a couple, three since 2011 when we last won it. It’s time to get one back.”
Champions starting pitcher Mike Gallo pitched a solid game for Peabody. Gallo finished his night with eight strikeouts and three earned runs on six hits.
“Mike’s clutch,” Gridley said. “If he’s not the Cy Young, the only reason he’ll lose it is to our lefty, Tyler Leavitt. Mike’s one of the best pitchers in the league. He gave up that one bad inning. One good piece and it was still off a fingertip to go. He got out of every other jam he had.”
Knight Owls starter Josh Partridge kept the Champions off the scoreboard for the first four innings before surrendering two runs in the top of the fifth. Patridge finished with four strikeouts and two earned runs on six hits in his 4 2/3 innings of work.
After a scoreless inning and a half, Kingston cashed in on a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the second. Greg Emanuelson was hit by a pitch to leadoff the inning and Dan Morin followed with a single. Gallo fanned the next two batters but Jordan Perez singled to keep the rally alive. With the bases loaded, Nick Shumski (1-for-2, 3 RBI) turned three Kingston baserunners into three Kingston runs with a triple to right field. The Night Owls led 3-0 at the end of two innings.
Kingston loaded the bases again in the bottom of the fourth on a double, a walk and an error. Gallo and the Champions escaped the jam this time, keeping the deficit at 3-0.
Peabody’s offense came alive in the top of the fifth. Champions leadoff batter Dave Ruggiero (3-for-4, 2 runs) singled and swiped second base. Derek Lyons (1-for-4, 2 runs) laced a RBI single, scoring Ruggiero with Peabody’s first run of the night. Lyons scored on a RBI single from Martin (3-for-4, 3 RBI), slimming Kingston’s lead to 3-2.
That’s how it stayed until the top of the seventh, when the Champions turned their luck around with late-inning magic. Ruggiero singled to start the rally and Lyons reached on error that could’ve been a double-play. Shorey (1-for-2) walked to load the bases for Martin, who hit a 2-RBI single and gave Peabody its first lead of the night at 4-3.
“When this team gives you something you better take advantage,” Gridley said. “They gave us a couple chances and we didn’t take advantage. That time, they gave us that play where the kid went to go get the ball and it tipped off his glove. Thankfully Chad had a big at-bat against the guy who’s probably going to start Game 7. That was a big at-bat.”
Gallo surrendered a walk to the lone batter he faced in the bottom of the seventh and gave way to Scott Weissman in relief. Weissman escaped a one-out, bases-loaded jam to seal the 4-3 win.
“We wanted to give them somebody they hadn’t seen yet,” Gridley said, “and that was Scott. He got it done.”
First pitch for Tuesday night’s Game 7 is scheduled for 8 p.m.