Red hot Magicians blank Peabody

·3 min read

May 21—PEABODY — Junior Ian Maude may not be the fanciest pitcher in the Northeastern Conference. But the Marblehead righthander just may be the most effective.

With a fearless knack to throws strikes that dare his opponents to make contact, Maude tossed a complete game shutout in a 9-0 win over host Peabody Friday afternoon at Bezemes Diamond.

Now the NEC's leader in wins with six, Maude was as efficient as he was gutsy. He never threw more than 16 pitches in an inning, scattered six hits while fanning six and pitched his Magicians (9-6) to their eighth win in the last nine outings.

"It's hard to string together a bunch of hits, so we tell our guys to attack the zone. Have them put the ball in play and our defense will make good plays behind you," said Marblehead coach Mike Giardi, whose team is back it at Saturday morning in Beverly looking to clinch a share of the NEC Lynch crown.

Peabody (8-9) jumped on the first pitch all afternoon. The Tanners put Maude's initial offering in play seven times, but more often than not the ball was caught by a running outfielder or gobbled up by shortstop Liam McIlroy.

"The gaps were closed for Peabody, apparently," mused head coach Mark Bettencourt, whose team has dropped three straight and scored only three runs in the span. "We're having trouble with the timely hits right now. Guys are asking what they can do to create some life on the bench, but you can't fix this with the bench. It'll come when balls find gaps and it's going to come all at once."

The Magicians put the Tanners on their heels early, scoring four times in the opening inning. Started Joey Raymond walked the first two and Shane Keogh's 2-run single broke the seal. Another walk led Bettencourt to summon Branden Waite from the bullpen and a James Doody RBI plus a sacrifice fly from Craig Michalowski had it 4-0 before the hosts had swung a bat.

"It all started with that first quality at-bat by Brady Lavender. He took some pitches, worked a walk and set the tone for everything," Giardi noted.

Waite was all around the strike zone for the Tanners with six hits and five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. His defense made four errors behind him, though, leading to five unearned runs that put the game out of reach with the Tanners unable to produce much offensively.

The hosts loaded the bases in the third on an error and singles by Raymond and Giovanni Guglielmo (2-for-3) but couldn't manufacture a run. Jacob Palhares also went 2-for-3 and Danny Espinosa singled for Peabody, which needs wins in two of its final three games to make the Division 1 tourney.

"This is a very hard working team," Bettencourt said. "They're doing the right things. When you work as hard as they do and you don't find success, it becomes a mental challenge. We need to respond to that."

Doody added another RBI single in the third and Schuyler Schmitt, who went 2-for-4 to keep his average over .500 on the year, had a loud two-run double in the sixth. Keough also had two hits and scored twice, second baseman Matt Titus scored twice and singled and catcher Andy Titus called a nice game behind the plate.