By Matt Williams
---- — LYNN — Peabody West Little League all-star Josh Cerretani apparently didn’t want last night’s Section 4 tournament game to go any deeper into the night.
So in the bottom of the eighth, he launched the baseball deep into the night sky.
Cerratani’s extra inning 2-run homer lifted Peabody West to a 3-1 win over Weston at Reinfuss Field. The victory makes the Tanner City kids 2-0 with one game to go in round robin play; a win tonight over North Andover (5:30 p.m.) would guarantee Peabody a spot in tomorrow’s Sectional final.
“Josh is clutch. He came up there in a big spot and he got it,” said Peabody coach Ed Aiello, with manager Frank Benea echoing, “We’re looking for somebody to do something, and Josh comes up and puts it over the fence.”
Weston (0-2) got great pitching throughout the game to hold off Peabody’s offense, and turned a pair of double plays. They also had baserunners in each of the last six innings, and the Tanner City all-stars got stellar pitching and defense of their own to get them off the scoreboard.
“This was a great game. Great pitching on both sides and so many good plays,” said Benea.
Jonathan Polignone struck out eight and threw to the 85-pitch limit for Peabody, allowing only a first inning homer to Weston’s Zaejan May. Dan Marshall and Cerretani each threw the maximum 20 pitches (so they can pitch today if needed), and John Mulready came on with a runner in scoring position and got the final out of the eighth.
“I thought we had a bunch of kids that are capable of pitching, and we do,” said Aiello.
Peabody trailed 1-0 until the third, when Mulready’s single and a pair of errors loaded the bases. On a passed ball, Mulready broke for home and was walked back up the line by Weston’s catcher; meanwhile, Chris Kwmuntis got stuck between first and second. Weston’s catcher threw to first to try to get Kwmuntis, which opened the door for Mulready to break home. He slid under the tag on the throw back to make it 1-1.
“That wasn’t by design,” said Aiello. “But the kids knew what to do when they got in that situation, and they got the run home.”
Peabody had a runner in the fifth (Marshall walked), sixth (Nick Iannuzzi doubled) and the seventh (Caroline Kukas reached on error) but couldn’t force across the go-ahead run. Finally, in the eighth, Christian Cummings reached and Cerretani homered to end it.
Weston, which needs to beat Beverly and have Peabody West win today for any chance to advance, had eight hits. Peabody West’s pitching was excellent under pressure, as Weston stranded six runners in scoring position.
Polignone, who also doubled in the first but was thrown out trying to advance to third, got better as his pitch count rose. He struck out the side in both the fourth and fifth.
“Polignone was great. He pitched a great game,” said Aiello. “That Weston offense put up a lot of runs (in their first game, a 13-9 loss to North Andover) and he kept them to one run, and kept us in the game.”
Should Peabody lose today, they still appear to be in good shape because the tiebreaker is runs allowed ratio (runs allowed divided by defensive innings played). Peabody West has allowed six runs in 14 innings, the best ratio of the four teams in the tournament thus far.
Peabody can keep it simple by winning today, however, and they’ll have all their pitchers except Iannuzzi (who threw Wednesday night) and Polignone available to do so.
SECTION 4 TOURNAMENT STANDINGS Team Record Runs against ratio Peabody West 2-0 0.43 Beverly 1-1 0.71 North Andover East 1-1 1.07 Weston 0-2 1.23 TODAY'S GAMES Peabody West vs. North Andover East (5:30) Beverly vs. Weston (7:45) SCENARIOS If Peabody West wins, they advance to Saturday's championship game. If Peabody loses and Weston wins, the final would be Peabody vs. North Andover. If Peabody loses and Beverly wins, the runs allowed ratio would be applied. If Peabody wins and Weston also wins, then the runs allowed ratio would be used to determine Peabody's opponent because all three other teams would be 1-2.