By Jean DePlacido
---- — SALEM – Pete Duval had Salem’s number. The Hamilton-Wenham pitcher earned both wins in the Senior Babe Ruth playoff series to put his team in the finals against Peabody beginning tonight at 5:45 p.m. in Peabody.
The third and deciding game of the series was 0-0 when a thunderstorm halted play at Palmer’s Cove on Sunday night. Last night the game was resumed in the top of the fifth inning with two outs. Duval walked three in the bottom of the inning but got out of the jam to keep the game scoreless.
Hamilton-Wenham went on top with three runs in the sixth off pitcher George Hillios. Matt Hogan delivered a two run single, and Paul DiMarino’s hit plated another run.
Salem’s Jael Pena spoiled Duval’s no-hitter with a solid double to the base of the fence in left field, but he was stranded at second when the right hander retired the next three in a row.
“My curve ball was working, and my two seam fast ball,” said Duval, who scattered two hits and five walks while striking out six. “I also threw my regular fast ball at times. I had a little problem with control in that first inning tonight and felt a bit tired because I pitched on Friday night (13-1 win), again on Sunday, and tonight. Once I got in a rhythm I felt fine.”
Salem finished second during the regular season behind Peabody while HW was third. Salem won the second game of the series (10-4) to knot it at 1-1 and force the deciding game.
“This was a tough series, and Salem is a very good team,” said HW manager Matt Wilson. “We’ve had to fight hard to win every game. We caught a couple of breaks tonight, and Pete did a great job on the mound.”
Hamilton-Wenham added three insurance runs in the top of the seventh with most of the damage coming after two outs and two Salem errors proved costly.
“Their pitcher did a great job; he beat us twice,” said Salem manager Ed Ryan. “Hamilton-Wenham got the job done, and got hits when they needed them. We’re a very young team with kids from Salem High, Beverly High, North Shore Tech, and one from Salem, who goes to Hamilton-Wenham.
“It was a pleasure to coach these kids. Cody Mercier, Tim Ryan, Sean Curtin, Joey Kozlowski, and Daniel Bailey were steady all season. They all got their at-bats, and will help their high school teams next year.”
Salem avoided being shut out by scoring in the bottom of the seventh. After Greg Speliotis worked a one out walk, he advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on a single by Hillios.
“We will keep doing what we do best,” said Wilson. “We have a lot of speed all through the team, and we like to steal when we can. We’ll keep doing the things that got us to the finals; we know Peabody will be tough.”