NAHANT — Josh Cerretani rose to the occasion, and, because of that, the Peabody West Little League Williamsport all-stars raised another District championship.
Cerrentani blasted a three-run home run over the center field fence in the top of the seventh inning, and Dan Marshall shut down Lynnfield in the bottom of the frame, clinching a 6-3 championship victory for Peabody West.
“The first pitch was right where I was looking for it, and I put a good swing on it,” said Cerretani, who has five homers this season. “I try not to smile when I hit one out, but I couldn’t help it because it felt so good.”
The two teams were tied (3-3) at the end of six innings, forcing extra frames. Mario Grasso’s two-out RBI single in the bottom of the sixth tied it for Lynnfield. Peabody starting pitcher Nick Iannuzzi had only allowed one run and three hits through five innings, but Lynnfield got to him in the sixth with a couple of seeing-eye singles.
Steve Fama and Jon Luders both singled to left before Iannuzzi fanned Colin Simoneau for his 10th strikeout of the game. Matt Relihan hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out, but Jagger Benson followed with an RBI single before Grasso’s hit tied the game.
At that point Iannuzzi reached the maximum 85 pitch count and Marshall took over. After giving up an infield hit to Peter Gaeta, Marshall struck out the next batter to strand what would have been the winning run at third base and force extra innings.
“This was a battle between two well-matched teams,” said Peabody West manager Frank Benea, whose team now moves on to the sectional tournament next week at Wyoma in Lynn. “I think both teams were a little nervous in the first couple of innings because we all knew this was going to be a very close game.