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August 19, 2013

Fantasy Matchups: 1989 Salem vs. 2003 Peabody baseball

One right-hander stood a menacing 6-foot-7 and weighed 230 pounds, staring down at high school hitters from the pitching rubber and blowing fastballs by them seemingly at will.

The other right-hander wasn’t as tall and didn’t weigh as much, but was just as overpowering and unhittable. Like his predecessor from the next town over, he made it look easy.

Two of Massachusetts’ best-ever high school baseball pitchers, both of whom went on to be selected in the first round of their respective Major League Baseball draft classes. Jeff Juden, who led Salem High to a Division 2 state title in 1989, was chosen 12th overall by the Houston Astros; Jeff Allison came out of Peabody High in 2003 as the 16th overall selection in the draft, going to the Florida Marlins.

But what would happen, hypothetically, if their two teams ever played and the two mound aces faced off against each other?

Well, it almost certainly would have been a low scoring game. And as the the coaches of those two teams would be the first to tell you, their star pitchers were most certainly not one-man shows.

“The team concept was fantastic. Jeff got all the honors, but that was an outstanding team,” said Ed Nizwantowski, who guided Peabody in 2003. “What sticks out in my mind is our pitching; Jeff’s ERA was 0.00; (Anthony) Palmieri’s was 0.31 and (Ian) Parkinson’s was 0.49 ... and we had (Ryan) Moorer for spot starts and relief. We were blessed with arms.

“I don’t rate teams, but that group was was fantastic. It was a very enjoyable time in my life.”

Legendary Salem High head coach Al Giardi echoed similar sentiments about his Witches, where Juden was the brightest of a star-studded collection of players.

“We had a lot of great players, not just Jeff,” said coach Giardi. “There were a lot of smart kids, both academically and athletically. A lot of them went on to play college baseball.”

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