LYNN — A nine-run sixth inning was the difference for the Peabody 12-year-old all-stars in a 10-1 win over Saugus National in the District 16 Little League Tournament at Wyoma’s Charlie Reinfuss Field Sunday.
Jace Jean Pierre (2-for-3, four RBI, two runs) drove a solo home run to right field to start the sixth inning rally and laced a three-run homer later in the inning to lead Peabody’s offense. Matt Smith (2-for-4, run) knocked in three RBI while Jariel Tolentino (1-for-3, two runs) added two.
“We had a real good day at the plate Saturday (22-1 win),” Peabody manager Justin Powers said. “I don’t know if we just expected that to carry over. But at the end of the day Saugus’ pitcher pitched well. He kept us off balance. We were hitting the ball right at guys, weren’t really striking out a ton. We had good at-bats but they were making plays and that’s a credit to them.”
James Smith (three innings, one earned run, six hits, one walk and five strikeouts) started for Peabody. Noah Crocker (three innings, two hits, four walks and two strikeouts) relieved Smith in the fourth inning and closed out the win.
“Our pitchers did really well,” Powers said. “James did a great job starting for us. It’s just a matter of trying to balance the pitch counts and making sure people are available if we did have to play in the losing bracket. Noah came in and pitched well too.”
For most of the night it looked like this one would be decided by just a few runs. Saugus National starter Steven Streeter (one run, six hits, two walks and three strikeouts) kept Peabody off balance at the plate for 4 2/3 innings before being relieved in the fifth.
After leaving the bases loaded in the first and stranding another runner in the second, Saugus National got the big hit it needed in the third. Luca Sapienza led the inning with a solo home run to center field to give Saugus a 1-0 lead.
Streeter kept the lead intact until the fifth, with a pair of singles and a handful of passed balls helping Peabody get on the board. Jake Mancini led the inning with a single and moved to third on a pair of passed balls before Matt Smith hit a RBI single to tie the game at 1-1.
The Peabody bats came alive in the sixth. Jean Pierre gave Peabody its first lead with his solo home run. A walk, hit batter and error loaded the bases next for Tolentino, who ripped a 2-run single to stretch the lead to 4-1. Another walk from Crocker loaded the bases again and Matt Smith knocked in a pair of runs with his second RBI hit of the game.
A single from James Smith put another runner on for Jean Pierre’s second home run of the inning and gave Peabody a comfortable 10-1 lead, after Peabody scored on a passed ball, going into the final frame. Peabody’s defense did the rest with a 6-4-3 double play highlighting the bottom of the sixth.
“That (sixth) was just a great inning for us,” Powers said. “Jace got us going and then closed it out in the end with another big fly. We have a great group over here. All 13 can contribute. They all do a great job together.
“We hung in there (Sunday),” Powers said. “That was a big home run there that got them ahead and gave them the momentum. We just kept grinding and making plays. Jace hit one to get us started and we didn’t look back afterward.”
With the win Peabody moves on to the District 16 final Thursday. Saugus National moves to the one-loss bracket and plays the winner of Monday’s elimination game between West Lynn/Salem.