SALEM — Lynn Gallant manager Jeff Earp knew his team had to play a near-perfect game to defeat Peabody Tuesday night. It’s safe to say the Lynners got his message.
Behind solid execution across all phases, Lynn earned a 5-1 win over Peabody at O’Grady Field in the tournament final.
Lynn’s win sets up a winner-take-all game Wednesday (6:30).
“We have to keep swinging the bats (Wednesday),” Earp said. “We need to make the plays on defense, hustle, run the bases and throw strikes. Nothing fancy.”
Peabody hopes to put the loss in its rearview mirror.
“We’ll just come out and play again,” Peabody manager Stephen Cabral said. “They’re 12-year-old kids. They forget quick. I think they’ll be ready to go. It was a good game. We didn’t play poorly. We hit the ball hard and Lynn made some terrific plays. That’s an excellent team.”
Pitcher Guilmer Galva gave Lynn another courageous performance. He tossed seven innings, allowed one earned run on three hits and struck out 11.
“Guilmer’s becoming a man right before our eyes,” Earp said. “He has improved so much over the past couple weeks. He has confidence, he understands what he’s doing. He can get a little over-excited like a 12-year-old boy will do. Then he brings himself back. It’s special to watch him.”
Cabral shared a similar take.
“(Guilmer) threw a tremendous game,” Cabral said. “He really kept us off-balance and we had trouble hitting him. I thought our pitching was good. He just threw us off-balance. It threw us off enough to where we couldn’t hit.”
Lynn came up short on a chance to grab the lead in the top of the first. Leadoff batter Ryan Amirault (1-for-3, run) singled up the middle and Christian Figueroa followed with a 6-4 fielder’s choice. Josh Doney’s double to deep left put Lynn runners on second and third. Nate Cutone was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. But Peabody escaped unscathed on a 1-2-3 double play.
Guilmer Galva struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the first. Jace Jeanpierre drew a 2-out walk and Alex Jackson (2-for-3, RBI) laced a single to put runners on first and second. A nifty catch from Justin Jennings in centerfield ended the inning.
“Justin was fantastic,” Earp said. “He has produced for us. He was all over the field in centerfield. He makes the other outfielders more confident because he covers so much ground. He’s great.”
Lynn cashed in on a Peabody error in the top of the second. Kyle Doney (1-for-3, two runs) opened the frame with a double and Guilmer Galva walked. Both runners scored when Jennings’ (1-for-3, RBI) fly ball was dropped in the outfield, giving Lynn a 2-0 lead.
After Guilmer Galva sent Peabody down in order through the next two innings, Lynn padded its lead to 3-0 in the top of the fourth. Jennings, Lynn’s No. 10 hitter, stepped up to bat with the bases loaded and hit a RBI single, scoring Kyle Doney.
Peabody closed the gap to 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth. Jariel Tolentino (1-for-3, run) started the rally with a single. Consecutive wild pitches allowed Tolentino to advance to third. Jackson’s RBI single brought Tolentino home for Peabody’s first run. That was the last hit Guilmer Galva allowed.
It remained 3-1 until the sixth. With runners on first and third, Lynn used a heads-up baserunning play to tack on an insurance run. Pinch-runner JoJo Hernandez crossed home plate on a double-steal to make it a 4-1 game.
“That was huge,” Earp said. “JoJo executed it perfectly. He stopped when he was supposed to and got a nice break. That was big.”
Peabody threatened in the bottom of the sixth but a 1-3-2 double play allowed Lynn to end the inning.
“The kids played much better defensively,” Earp said. “We have to do that and throw strikes. Peabody’s a great team.”
Amirault scored the final run of the night on Jake Peterson’s (1-for-3, RBI) RBI double in the top of the seventh. Guilmer Galva retired Peabody in order in the bottom half to seal the win.