SALEM — For a third straight year, Peabody will play for a Ray Gallant Tournament championship.
Sunday afternoon at Stephen M. O’Grady Field, Peabody punched its ticket to Tuesday’s final with a 5-1 win over Marblehead.
Peabody pitcher Matt Smith was virtually unhittable, allowing no runs and only two hits in 6 ⅓ innings. He struck out nine and walked one. He also helped himself out at the plate with a 2-run homer in the bottom of the third to give the Tanners a 5-0 cushion.
“Matt pitched a tremendous game today and also had a huge hit there with that home run to get to 5-0,” said Peabody manager Steve Cabral. “That was just a huge hit. It gave us some breathing room against a very good team.
“We usually rely on good pitching and defense and (Sunday) we had some big hits. Mason (Clickstein) had two and Alex (Jackson) also had two big hits (Sunday).”
After setting down Marblehead in order in the top of the first, Peabody went to work in its half of the inning. James Smith (1-for-3, run) led with a single and stole second. Jariel Tolentino followed with a single and both runners scored on Jackson’s (2-for-3, double, two RBI) single to center.
In the third, Tolentino (1-for-2, two runs) led with a walk. He stole second and advanced to third on an errant throw. Jayce Jeanpierre (1-for-3, run, RBI) brought Tolentino home with a single up the middle. Two batters later, Matt Smith (2-for-3) drilled a line drive over the fence in left-center to make it 5-0.
Charlie Sachs (1-for-2) led the top of the seventh with Marblehead’s second of the game, a single to right, to give his team some hope. Matt Smith struck out the next batter, thanks to a great play by catcher Zach Hartnett (2-for-3), who held on to a foul tip for the out. Dylan Annese came on in relief and got the next out on a grounder to Tolentino at second. An infield error kept the inning going, giving Marblehead runners at first and second. Jameson Vied (1-for-3) singled Sachs home to break the ice, but Annese buckled down and got the last batter on strikes to seal the win.
Marblehead starter Bodie Bartram (1-for-3) went three innings. He gave up seven hits and struck out three. Sachs came on in relief and pitched three scoreless innings, allowing four hits.
“That’s a very, very good team,” said Marblehead manager Steve Clay. “Being a Cal Ripken team. we don’t see many area teams like Peabody. We battled but Matt was practically untouchable. We play more 50-70 so when we see a kid with velocity from a shorter distance, we struggle to hit, but, all in all, we are thrilled to be here and happy to be back at this park, which is just beautiful.”
Clay highlighted the strong play of shortstop James Caeran.
“He usually plays second base but with the personnel changes, we moved knew he could play short and he came up with a bunch of big plays (Sunday),” Clay said.
Cabral said the Gallant is always a special tournament for the Peabody.
“It’s the one time both Little League programs come together and play as one team,” he said. “Peabody Little League and Peabody West kids just love being able to play as teammates against these other towns. It’s just great to see them having so much fun being on the same team for the first time all summer.”
Peabody’s opponent in Tuesday’s final (6:30) will be the winner of Monday night’s game between Marblehead/Lynn (6:30).