By Jean DePlacido
---- — LYNN – What a pitcher’s duel fans were treated to last night at East Lynn’s Volunteer Field in the District 16 Williamsport Little League Tournament. Peabody Blue and Peabody West came into the game with 1-0 records, and both Blue’s Mason Zeuli and West’s Nick Iannuzzi were outstanding on the mound.
The difference was Peabody West was able to come up with key hits with runners on base, and also capitalized on a couple of wild throws to win, 3-0. Iannuzzi went the distance, scattering four hits and one walk while striking out 13. He kept batters off balance all game with a dazzling curve they couldn’t touch.
Zeuli also pitched a gem. He gave up a run in the top of the second when Cooper Jacques reached on a fielder’s choice and came around to score on a two out double by John Mulready. The other two runs came in the fifth on a double by Chris Kwmuntis that drove in a run, and Josh Cerretani also scored on a throwing error that allowed Kwmuntis to take third.
Zeuli, who walked three and struck out six, gave way to Tyler MacGregor with two on and two out in the fifth, and he got Iannuzzi to line out to first baseman James Taylor, who made two great defensive plays on hard hit line drives. Mac Gregor finished up with three strikeouts in the sixth.
“Zeuli is a very good pitcher, who pounds the strike zone,” said Blue manager Eric Dollin. “It’s a shame to waste a performance like that, but we just couldn’t get the hits. I think they had three hard hit balls all night, but we gave them a couple of extra outs when we threw the ball around. That’s frustrating because you just can’t do that against a good team.
“They are the best at working the count, and Iannuzzi did a great job. We didn’t face a curve ball like that all season, and he’s not afraid to throw it when it’s 0-2. Peabody West has good bats up and down the lineup. We were chasing a run the whole game, but there’s no quit in our guys. JT (Taylor) made two big defensive players on those liners, and both were hard hit balls.”
Blue had a few scoring opportunities and had runners on second base in the first, fourth, and sixth but couldn’t get a run in. Mike Panzini beat out an infield hit and advanced on a passed ball in the first, but Iannuzzi got the next batter looking at strike three to get out of the jam. In the fourth Chris Masta singled to left and advanced on a passed ball, but Iannuzzi roared back to fan the next two.
MacGregor doubled to lead off the sixth, but once again Iannuzzi bore down to retire the last three batters he faced. Defensively West was solid behind him, and Carolyn Kukas made a nice running catch in right center to rob Caleb Dollin of extra bases in the second inning.
“What a great job Nick did for us tonight,” said West manager Frank Benea whose 2-0 team is off until July 5th. “He was fully under control the whole way and threw only 79 pitches. It was great to see the bottom of the order help to score a run with some of our subs in there; this was a whole team effort.
“Iannuzzi keeps getting better every game, and his confidence is up. He has one of the better curve balls around, and he didn’t throw it much during the season. Zeuli also did a real nice job for them. He was getting the outside corner, and we couldn’t touch that pitch.”
Kukas and Will Preshong had the other hits for West while Zeuli hit safely for Blue. After the game West players sung Happy Birthday to their third baseman Jonathan Polignone and celebrated with cupcakes his mother passed out.