BEVERLY — The words could have been uttered by a baseball manager from a game played 100 years ago.
The same words would apply to a contest that takes place 100 years from now. No matter the time frame, the phrasing would still fit perfectly.
Yesterday, those words — "every team plays better with a little bit of confidence" — came from the mouth of Beverly High head coach Dave Wilbur. And the timing couldn't have been any better.
Buoyed by the return of two key players (including their captain) to the lineup, the Panthers used a solid outing on the mound from Cam Rogers, some stellar defensive play and displayed both power and patience at the plate. It all added up to a 10-3, much-needed victory over arch rival Salem at Cooney Field.
Trailing by a run midway through the contest, Beverly (3-3) strung together four straight hits in the fourth inning and finished the frame with five altogether, resulting in four runs for a 5-2 advantage. They doubled their lead in the bottom of the fifth against three Salem relievers by taking four bases loaded walks and scoring five more runs despite mustering just one hit.
Beverly also turned three double plays and didn't commit an error behind Rogers. The junior righty pitched into the seventh inning before tiring, scattering seven hits while making many of Salem's hitters swing at pitches early in the count that resulted in outs.
"When we're at our best, we're playing well defensively and that's what we did today," said Wilbur, who stressed the importance of winning and improving to 3-3, rather than falling two games under .500 had his team lost. "(Kevin) Cuneo had an excellent game defensively at first base, as did our sophomore catcher, Tristan Fasheh."
Salem "didn't look anything like" the team that had won four of its first five games coming into yesterday's game, said head coach Jim Tgettis. Staff ace Chris Boucher started strong on the mound before faltering in the fourth, and his defense and relief corps couldn't pick up the pieces.
"We were dull, sloppy and didn't have good energy," admitted Tgettis. "Not that it's an excuse, but it had been six days since we had played a game and it showed. Scoring chances missed, inability to throw strikes ... we didn't have it."
Salem also didn't have Ben Kapnis at its disposal; the talented pitcher/first baseman remains out with a high ankle sprain. "But other guys have to step up if we have someone else out (of the lineup)," said Tgettis.
Having missed two weeks to an injury, junior shortstop Anthony DiOrio returned to the Beverly lineup and the captain had two hits and scored a pair of runs. Third baseman Alex Toomey also came back from injury and delivered a hit and two runs scored from the cleanup spot.
Center fielder Harry Brown had a big day at the dish for the hosts, cranking a two-run double in the fourth and finishing with three RBI. Rogers helped himself with an RBI double (and, like Brown, scored twice), while Connor Mooney ("he had a terrific game" said Wilbur) had three RBI with run-scoring singles in the third and fourth innings and a bases loaded walk in the fifth.
For Salem, Boucher helped himself by golfing a 355-foot home run to right field in the top of the third, giving his team a 2-0 lead. Amelio Beato's run-producing groundout plated Jencsy Troncoso (a vacuum at shortstop) for the Witches' other run.