Peabody defeats resilient Saugus National team in District 16 final

Peabody won the District 16 Little League Championship with a 13-8 win over Saugus National Thursday. (Item Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNN — The Peabody 12-year-old All-Stars didn’t want to leave any room for chance Thursday evening. 

Behind solid pitching and some hot bats, Peabody took down Saugus National, 13-8, to win the District 16 Little League Tournament at Charlie Reinfuss Field. Peabody scored at least once in every inning.

“We didn’t play our best out there, especially in the field, but we made the plays and got the hits when we needed to,” said Peabody manager Justin Powers. “Saugus is a scrappy team and they kept putting the bat on the ball and fighting back, so give a lot of credit to them. We had to work for everything tonight, but sometimes you’ve got to win games in different ways.”

The Peabody offense was powered by Noah Crocker, who went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI. Joey Smith went 1-for-3 with two RBI, while Jariel Tolentino (2-for-5) Tyler Santos (1-for-2) and Jake Powers (2-for-3) each had one RBI. Jayce Jeanpierre (2-for-4, run), Andrew McKenna (1-for-2, two runs) and James Smith (1-for-2, run) also added hits in the win.

On the mound, Matt Smith earned the win after tossing four innings and allowing five runs on eight hits with seven strikeouts. Tolentino came on in relief in the fifth inning and closed out the game. 

For Saugus, Steven Streeter went 2-for-4 with four RBI to pace the offense. Dan Zeitz (1-for-2) and Mike Moschella (1-for-2) had one RBI each, while Nathan Soroko (2-for-3, run), Tyler Riley (2-for-4, run), Luca Sapienza (1-for-3, two runs) and Brayden Crawford (1-for-2) each added hits.

“It’s a tough way to lose, but the guys never gave up,” said Saugus manager Buddy Riley. “We hit better (Thursday) than any other day in the tournament, but we had some other things, fielding errors and such, hurt us in this one. But we had a good run this year, and the kids should be proud of what they’ve done.”

Peabody got things started right away in the top of the first, getting a RBI single from Crocker. But Saugus answered in the bottom of the inning, moving runners to first and second with one out before Streeter smashed a two-RBI double to left field to give Saugus a 2-1 lead. 

That lead was short-lived.

In the top of the second, Peabody tied it on a RBI single from Joey Smith. Then, in the top of the third, Peabody took control.

It started with two singles and a walk to load the bases with no outs. Powers and Joey Smith each drew RBI walks to go up 4-2, then Tolentino laced a RBI single. After one more run came home on a fielder’s choice, Peabody led 6-2. 

Saugus never gave up the fight. In the bottom of the third, a RBI single from Zeitz and a RBI triple from Moschella cut the deficit to 6-4, but the rally was ended after Saugus got caught up in a double-steal attempt. 

Peabody got one back in the fourth on a RBI double from Santos, bumping the lead to 7-4. Saugus closed the gap to 7-5 in the bottom of the fourth. 

In the top of the fifth, Crocker smashed a solo home run before Peabody pushed across two more runs thanks to some fielding errors by Saugus, putting the lead at 10-5. 

Saugus, showing no quit, got a run in the bottom of the fifth via an error to make it 10-6.

In the top of the sixth, Peabody grabbed two more runs via errors and Crocker knocked another RBI hit to push its lead to 13-6.

Despite a two-run single for Streeter in the bottom of the sixth to make it 13-8, Saugus simply didn’t have enough firepower to make a full comeback and Peabody went home with the championship banner.

Peabody now moves on to the Section 4 Tournament, which will start next week. Their opponent — the District 15 champion — has yet to be decided, but it will be the winner of a two-game tilt between Hamilton-Wenham and Danvers American. 

“I know one thing, every round and every game gets harder to win,” said Powers. “We know that they have some really good teams over in District 15, and we’ll be in for a challenge no matter who we play. We’re going to have to play better than we did (Thursday) in order to compete, but I have confidence that we’ll be able to do that.”

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