Ultimately, the difference in the game was Gloucester’s ability to knock out then Panthers when it had them on the ropes.
Beverly struck first and seemed to rattle Gloucester starter Conor Harris.
Panther first baseman Kevin Cuneo, who arrived to the field just before first pitch because he was taking an AP exam, smashed a homer to center field to lead off the fourth inning. Harris walked the next hitter, then hit a batter before Sean Hanlon bunted both runners over. Another walk loaded the bases for Beverly with only one out.
“We just needed that timely hit to expand our lead to put a little pressure on them,” Wilbur said.
The timely hit never came for the Panthers. Harris settled down, forcing a line out and striking out a batter to eliminate the threat.
“We’ve had some close games, but there hasn’t been a lot of teams jumping ahead of us and having to deal with a little adversity. That guy (Cuneo) hammered that ball. You could see the next couple hitters (Harris) started to lose it a little bit,” Lafata said. “It’s good for him; he’s a senior so he should really learn how to deal with that, how to overcome it. And he did.”
Lafata was also pleased with the way his team immediately produced a run in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game. Peter Clark drew a walk and Pallazola singled with one out. An error on a potential double play ball loaded the bases for the Fishermen and Eric Chalmers laced an RBI single to right field.
Shairs finished with two of Gloucester’s eight hits and Curtis Quinn pitched 11/3 innings of relief to close it out for the Fishermen.
Cuneo had a pair of hits for Beverly, which still needs two wins in games against Lynn Classical, Lynn English, Peabody, Salem and North Middlesex to qualify for the postseason.
“I like our team, too,” Wilbur said. “We didn’t get it done (today), but tomorrow’s another day and we’ll be ready to go.”