LYNN — The Game 7 woes continued for the Peabody Champions Tuesday night. Peabody surrendered five unanswered runs after a four-run rally in the bottom of the first, en route to a 7-4 loss to the Kingston Night Owls in Game 7 of the North Shore Baseball League finals at Fraser Field.
Kingston’s NSBL championship marks the fourth time the Night Owls have earned the league’s title in the past five seasons.
Champions starter Mike Moroney allowed six earned runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings. Reliever Scott Weissman pitched 2 2/3 innings, allowed one earned run on four hits with three strikeouts.
“We had so many arm injuries and guys missing to pitch,” Peabody co-manager Steve Gridley said. “Mike Moroney came out, at 44 years old, having pitched two innings, needing a waiver to pitch in the playoffs because he coached his son’s Little League team in Danvers all the way to states. He couldn’t make any games. He threw four innings and gutted it out but we just didn’t have healthy guys to bring in.”
The Night Owls used four different pitchers. Starter Evan Penney lasted just one inning and allowed three earned runs. Ryan Corriveau, Griffin St. Onge and Sean Callahan each pitched in relief. Callahan retired all seven batters he faced.
Kingston jumped on the Champions for a pair of runs in the top of the first. Nick Comei, who reached on a walk, sprinted home on a wild pitch for the game’s first run. Greg Emanuelson (1-for-2, 2 RBI) followed with a sacrifice fly, bringing Joe Morin (2-for-3, 3 runs) home to give Kingston a 2-0 lead after half an inning.
It didn’t take the Champions long to reclaim the lead. Jon Cahill’s (1-for-4, RBI) RBI single scored Derek Lyons with Peabody’s first run of the night. B.J. Weed’s (1-for-3, 2 RBI) 2-RBI triple gave the Champions a 3-2 lead. Weed scored on a Kingston error, capping a four-run Peabody rally in the bottom of the first.
The Night Owls slimmed the deficit in half in the top of the third on a RBI single from Emanuelson. Kingston made the most of a few Peabody mistakes in the top of the fifth to take the lead. A Champions infield error, back-to-back walks, and a 2-RBI single from Dan Morin (1-for-4, 2 RBI) led to three Night Owls runs and a 6-4 edge.
“They got the hits they needed when they needed them,” Gridley said. “Our guys gutted it out. No disrespect to Kingston because they earned all four wins. They got the big hits when they needed and they were better than us tonight. I wish we had the guys we could’ve had but that’s baseball. We had chances to score more runs and we didn’t.”
Chad Martin (1-for-2, run) worked a walk to leadoff the bottom of the fifth. After a strikeout and a groundout, Mike Gallo kept the inning alive by reaching on a two-out walk. Kingston escaped the threat unscathed after a groundout and maintained its 6-4 lead.
With one out in the top of the sixth, Kingston’s Andrew Thibault (1-for-4, RBI) cranked a solo home run over the left field fence. Thibault’s blast bumped the Night Owls’ lead to 7-4.
“Scott came in and he’s been pitching sore all year,” Gridley said. “He came in after pitching yesterday. It took him an inning to get heated and they got hits off him. That home run he gave up was the first run he’s given up all year in 15 or 16 innings.”
Needing three runs to keep their hopes alive in the bottom of the seventh, Kingston reliever Callahan retired the Champions in order to seal the Night Owls’ 7-4 win.
Gridley said Peabody’s season was a success overall and hopes the Champions will return to the finals next summer.
“We had a great season,” Gridley said. “The kids battled, it was just injuries at the wrong time. I’m very proud of these guys, I’m always proud of these guys. We’re in the finals a lot. It’s been too long since we’ve won it. It’s going to be seven years now and four Game 7 losses but I’ll take our guys all day long. We’ll be back next year.”