PEPPERELL — Pepperell was poised to move to 2-0 in tournament play, but Norh Leominster would have none of it and rallied to rain on their parade. North Leominster, with their backs to the wall after an opening game loss, scored five runs in the final two innings to overcome a 4-0 deficit and post a pulsating 5-4 win.
Pepperell was in control of the game, building a 4-0 lead after 4 1/2 innings behind the strong right arm of Anthony Sylvester. But North Leominster came out swinging in the bottom of the fifth and erupted for four runs to tie the game.
Andrew Curran got the tying rally started with a one- out single, before a ringing double by Cody Jardine put runners on second and third. Matt Fuller plated Curran with a single before a single by Sean Sweeney loaded the bases. Noah Milliard then singled in a pair of runs, and Sweened scored the equalizer on an errant throw to make it 4-4 heading to the sixth.
Pitcher Greg Cavaioli, who earned the victory with 4 2/3 strong innings of relief, then wriggled out of a jam in the top of the sixth when Brendan Twomey and Jimmy Ciampa singled, setting the stage for the decisive run in the bottom of the inning.
Cam Cordio led off with a single. Ryan Lever then ripped a deep drive to left that was hauled down by Ciampa, but Curran singled and Jardine was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Ciampa was brought on in relief, but Fuller bounced a single through the right side of the infield to win it.
All Pepperell early
Pepperell lost the coin toss and was the visiting team, but made that pay off quickly with a pair of runs in the top of the first against Leominster starting pitcher Milliard. With one out, Sylvester doubled and came around to score when Ryan Twomey blasted a home run over the center field fence.
Sylvester allowed just Milliard’s single in the bottom of the first and received a nice defensive play from centerfielder Danny Breen, who hauled down Benjamin Doyle’s deep drive for the final out.
Pepperell added to the lead in the top of the second when Brendan Twomey walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on Ciampa’s single. Cavaioli came on in relief and escaped further damage, getting defensive support from catcher Doyle, who gunned down a potential basestealer at second base.
Pepperell threatened in the top of the third when Ryan Twomey doubled, Tyler Thomas singled and Austin Lowrey was intentionally walked, but Cavaioli induced an inning ending pop-out to keep the game at 3-0.
Pepperell made a pair of solid defensive plays in the third and fourth innings to allow Sylvester to toss two more goose eggs.
In the third, third baseman Brendan Twomey ranged to his left and made a strong throw to first to take a hit away from Sweeney.
In the fourth, Doyle ripped a hard line drive up the middle that deflected off Sylvester to second baseman Chris Skelly, who fired to first for the out.
Pepperell manufactured an insurance run in the top of the fifth. Sylvester led off with a single. With two outs, he timed a break from third base perfectly and stole home to make it 4-0.
Fuller (run scored, two RBI), Milliard (two RBI) and Curran (run scored) each had two singles for North Leominster. Shortstop Ryan Lever turned in a strong defensive effort.
Ryan Twomey paced Pepperell with a double, home run, a run scored and two RBI while Sylvester added a single, double and two runs scored. Ciampa was 2-2 with a pair of singles and an RBI. Sylvester allowed four earned runs and ten hits over 5 1/3 innings, striking out two. Third baseman Brendan Twomey and second baseman Skelly were defensive standouts.