PEABODY — The bottom of the order was due up against Saugus ace Todd Trangale, one the best pitchers residing North of Boston, and Bishop Fenwick was chasing two runs with their season on the line.
When the inning started, senior captain Trey Deloury was five batters away from hitting. In the back of his mind, though, he knew if the Crusaders could just get to the top of the order, they’d have a chance.
Three straight two-out singles gave Deloury that shot — and he wasted no time making it count. The tall righty stung the first pitch he saw all the way to the fence in left field, scoring two and sending Bishop Fenwick to a memorable 5-4 Division 3 North quarterfinal win over Saugus.
“That was crazy. It’s one of the greatest feelings of my life,” said Deloury, who also picked up the win with five scoreless innings of relief pitching. “I love every one of those boys. Every practice we had was for this game right here.”
With their tenth straight win, Fenwick (16-7) advances to face Swampscott (14-8) in the North semi’s later this week. The Crusaders trailed 4-2 and went down to their last out against Northeastern Conference MVP Trangale before sophomore Richie Pignone’s single kept the bottom of the seventh alive.
Senior captain Angelo McCullough laced a single and fellow captain Keegan O’Connor beat out an infield single to score Pignone and make it 4-3. That opened the door for Deloury and with one swing he kicked it down.
“Richie’s only a sophomore and his hit was the biggest play of the game. Then Keegan beats out that ground ball ... that’s what we’re all about, battling for everything and picking each other up,” said Deloury.
Saugus (15-7) shot out to a 4-0 lead when Joey Dusabalo ripped a bases clearing double for three RBI in the top of the first. Sending the hard-throwing Trangale, who struck out well over 100 batters on the year, to the hill with a big lead was a dream start for the No. 5 seed Sachems.
Fenwick kept calm and chipped away. The hosts didn’t score until the fifth when O’Connor ripped a 2-run double off the top of the fence, but they had six hits in first six innings (10 overall) and only struck out six times. It was emblematic of the patient, smart hitting approach the No. 4 Crusaders have relied all on all year.
“Late in the game it was a simple strategy: Leave our feet alone. The kid’s a great pitcher, lights out, so we said ‘Forget the stride, use your hands.’ Thankfully it worked,” said Fenwick head coach Russ Steeves.
While Fenwick made its adjustments at the plate, Deloury kept Saugus from adding to its lead. His efficient delivery held Saugus to only one hit over the last six frames. No Sachem ever made it to second base off relievers Cory Bright (1 1/3 hitless) and Deloury, who plunked two and was helped by O’Connor gunning one down trying to swipe second.
“I’m not even a pitcher. I didn’t throw one inning in high school before this year,” Deloury marveled. “I’m a competitor, though. I live for that situation and anytime I’m in it, I’ll go out and do my best.”
Needing only 48 pitches to get through five frames, Deloury struck out four and relied on excellent defense behind him. He didn’t walk anyone and only faced two full counts.
“The versatility of these guys ... Trey is a natural center fielder, our third baseman is a natural catcher, Cory is a shortstop; these guys put their hats in hand and said ‘where ever we have to play coach, we don’t care.’ There’s no egos,” said Steeves. “It’s a special group.”
O’Connor went 3-for-4 to lead Fenwick while Deloury and McCullough were each 2-for-4. Bright, Jake Murphy and Pignone also had hits. Harrison Brickett jump started the fifth when he reached on an error and Christian Loescher’s sacrifice bunt set up O’Connor 2-run double that cut the lead in half at 4-2.
Saugus took advantage of two walks and a C.J. Graffeo single in the first to jump ahead, plating its fourth run on an error.
Now the Crusaders meet Swampscott in the playoffs for the first time since 2003. A win would put Fenwick in the North final for the first time since 2004, also their last state baseball title.
“This was one of the best games I’ve ever been part of,” said Steeves. “Trey’s the winning pitcher and gets the winning hit — he was nails. This was all about our seniors. They said ‘We’re not going home yet.””