BEVERLY — Dave Wilbur wasn’t hiding a crystal ball under his Beverly High baseball jacket, and he didn’t have his palm read before his Panthers battled Peabody for a chance to pull even in the Northeastern Conference North title chase.
His pregame declaration to a Beverly fan outside the fence yesterday was spot-on, but it was more of an educated estimation than a prediction.
Wilbur figured if the Panthers were going to beat the Tanners and their No. 1 starter, Andrew McLaughlin, it was going to be a low-scoring, one-run game. So Beverly got a tremendous pitching performance from junior righty David Drinkwater and Sean Curtin hit an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth inning, lifting the hosts to a 1-0 victory.
Peabody and Beverly are each 10-4 in the NEC with one league game to play.
“First of all, going against McLaughlin you know that runs are going to be tough to get,” Wilbur said. “He’s an excellent pitcher and Peabody is a heck of a team.
“We’ve come a long way since the first part of the season. These kids have worked really hard and we earned it today. David was phenomenal.”
Peabody outhit Beverly 7-3, but Drinkwater and his defense came through when needed. The Panthers (11-7) cut down a run at the plate in the top of the fourth inning, Drinkwater picked off a runner at first with no out in the fifth, and Beverly spun a double play to destroy Peabody scoring opportunities.
“They had a bunt single and two hard hit balls and we lose ... go figure,” Peabody (14-5) coach Mark Bettencourt said.
McLaughlin did more than enough to earn a win on the mound for the Tanners. He cruised through the Beverly lineup the first time around and ended up surrendering just three hits and one walk over six innings while striking out five.