By Jean DePlacido
---- — PEABODY — For five innings Peabody’s David Apostolides kept Bishop Fenwick batters guessing. He was cruising along until the bottom of the sixth inning when the Crusaders exploded for six runs to take the lead.
Fenwick senior captain Brian Burke took over in the top of the seventh to get the save as the Crusaders won the battle of the Tanner City, 7-5.
The trouble began for Apostolides, who had only give up one hit and held a 5-1 lead, when pinch hitter Will Vigneron singled up the middle and Eric Razney beat out an infield hit. Leadoff hitter John Oliveira laid down a perfect bunt in front of the plate to load the bases with nobody out.
Senior Nick Bona, who is from Peabody, delivered the big blow: A three run double to right field to clear the bases and close the deficit to one run.
“After I had a couple of at-bats I started to figure (Apostolides) out,” said Bona after his team improved to 14-3. “I hit a curve ball, and it really helped having three fast guys on base. This is a big win for us, but we don’t have much time to celebrate because we’re right back at it against a tough Swampscott team (today).”
Things quickly fell apart for Peabody after that. Gianni Esposito reached on an error and promptly stole second. Apostolides was called for a balk, allowing Bona to come home with the tying run, and Burke delivered a suicide squeeze bunt to score Esposito. Joe Levasseur kept the rally going with a double down the third base line, and came home on Mike Campatelli’s single.
“You live by the sword, you die by the sword,” said Tanner coach Mark Bettencourt after his team suffered its third loss (16-3). “This is the first time all year, except for the Prep game, when we gave up six runs in an inning. Before the sixth I warned the kids there would be a surge because Fenwick was tough and was not hanging their heads.
“I was hesitant to take David out because even though they got six hits in the inning, there were only one or two hard hit balls. Everything else found holes. He was making good pitches, and give Fenwick credit because they hit them. Bona deserves credit for that clutch hit. Unfortunately that one bad inning came in the bottom of the sixth, and we only had one chance to get the runs back.”
The Fenwick lineup is loaded with Peabody kids and this is a huge rivalry for them. The Tanners threatened in the top of the seventh when Michael Petrosino singled and George Tsonis worked a walk with two down, but cleanup hitter Frank Lowry, who had an RBI double in his previous at-bat, was caught looking at a called strike three to end the game.
“Apostolides had us fooled, and we looked bad in the first three or four innings. He throws from the side and kept us off balance,” said Fenwick coach Kevin Canty, who served as a Peabody assistant before taking over the Crusaders. “One thing Mark (Bettencourt) taught me was to never get too high or too low; try to keep an even keel. I stayed calm.”
That even keel served Fenwick, which is now 3-1 against Division 1 teams and beat Peabody for the second straight year.
“I’ve told the kids we can beat anybody by not getting too emotional. I put Central Catholic, Gloucester, St. John’s Prep, Peabody, and Danvers on the schedule. We play the best,” said Canty. “This is a huge win for all our Peabody kids, and Andrew Lessard knew he was getting the ball from the day this game was scheduled. He wanted a shot against Peabody, and next year it will be another Peabody kid, Tommy Parsons’ turn.”
Lessard worked the first five innings, giving up five runs on five hits and striking out seven. Peabody scored four runs on just two hits in the fourth inning, capitalizing on three free passes. Steve Leavitt, who was 2-for-3, delivered an RBI single. Another run came home on Maynard Wheeler’s sacrifice bunt and catcher Brandon Polignone’s single brought in two more.
Parsons came on in the sixth for a scoreless inning of relief and Burke finished up. Until the sixth inning the only run the Crusaders got off Apostolides came in the fourth when Oliveira led off with a double and later scored on Bona’s ground out.
“A lot of the stuff I usually try would not have worked today because Kevin knows me so well,” said Bettencourt. “We tried to beat them man on man, and did for five innings. This loss doesn’t devastate us. It’s a non-league game and we’re both playing for rankings, but we can’t stumble in our last three games.
“This is a nice friendly rivalry and a very positive thing for the kids. They all know each other; today it was Fenwick’s day.”