Peabody Champions hope to steer the ship in NSBL final

Time is getting short for the Peabody Champions.

After a 12-2 loss to the Kingston Night Owls in Game 3 of the North Shore Baseball League finals Tuesday night, the Champions now find themselves down 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. For manager Steve Gridley, there’s a pretty simple answer for the team’s struggles early in the series.

“We’d certainly like things to be the other way around, but the fact of the matter is we just haven’t been able to hit,” Gridley said. “We’ve been a really good hitting team all season, but these past few games we just haven’t been able to get much going.”

This year’s NSBL final is a matchup of the two best teams in the league all season long. Kingston breezed through the regular season with a 21-3 record, while Peabody was right behind in second place with a 19-4 record.

“Kingston is a very solid team from top to bottom, in all phases of the game,” Gridley said. “They don’t make mistakes and they keep the pressure on you all game long. They don’t beat themselves, you have to go out and beat them.”

Peabody took Game 1 of the series with a 3-1 win Sunday, but the Champions have since been outscored 20-3. And it’s no secret what Peabody needs to do to turn things around.

“We’ve got to hit, bottom line,” said Gridley. “It would obviously help us to pitch better as well, but we’ve been able to rely on our hitting all year long.”

Game 4 is scheduled for Thursday night (7:45), and it will be played on the Champions’ home turf at Twi Field in Danvers. 

“We feel like we’re in a good spot coming back home and playing on real grass and dirt, where we’re a little more comfortable,” Gridley said. “It will be nice to be on our home field.”

Also working in Peabody’s favor is the fact that Tyler Leavitt — who won the NSBL Cy Young Award last season — is getting the start on the mound.

“We have a lot of confidence in Tyler,” Gridley said. “We know that he’ll put us in a position to win, and all we’ll have to do is give him some runs.”

Other than that, Gridley stressed the importance of sticking to the script and just getting back to the way the Champions have been playing all season. That means getting contributions at the plate from big hitters like Mark Shorey, Jon Cahill, Chad Martin and David Ruggiero — who all hit .300 or better this season.

“We’ve got the guys who can get the job done, that’s for sure,” said Gridley. We just need to come out strong from the very first inning and play a solid all-around game.”

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