Peoples clinches crown, 11-4

GREENFIELD — It all unraveled late for Manny’s TV & Appliance on Thursday night.

Peoples Bank scored 10 times in the final two innings to turn what had been a close game into a rout as the first-place Bankers defeated second-place Manny’s, 11-4, in a battle of the top two Tri-County League men’s baseball teams at Veterans Memorial Field.

The victory clinched the outright league title for Peoples and the top seed in the upcoming playoffs.

The game was tied at 1-1 entering the top of the sixth inning when things took a turn for the worst for the host, who had handed Peoples its only loss of the season on June 20. Tom Bouvier opened the frame with a single and scored the go-ahead run when former TCL Most Valuable Player Ryan Franczyk roped a double. Dave Clark followed with a bunt up the first-base line that was fielded by first baseman Austin Finck as he charged up the line. But when he went to throw the ball to first, second-baseman Greg Vouros was late covering and as he caught the ball, Clark and him collided viciously, sending both players flying as the ball was jarred loose from Vouros’ glove. That allowed Franczyk to score from second and only fueled the Peoples offense. Ted Lerud followed with a single and moved to second base when the throw from left short-hopped the infielders and got away when Finck did not back the play up.

Manny’s starter Asher Young came back to get two outs, but then he hit Zach Goodwin-Boyd with a pitch to load the bases before walking Pete Hogan to force in a run. No. 9 hitter Joe Ferry then roped a two-run double to plate the fourth and fifth runs of the frame and what had been a tie game was suddenly lopsided.

“We did some stupid stuff defensively out there,” Manny’s coach Lee Magee said of the sixth-inning unraveling. “We didn’t cover on that bunt, didn’t back up the throw on that single. Those are the things against a good team that are going to kill you.”

Peoples (18-1-0) continued to pile it on against Manny’s reliever Garrett Hudson in the seventh, taking advantage of three walks and a hit batter as Hudson struggled to throw strikes. When he did, Peoples crushed the ball. Lerud hit an RBI double in the frame, while Hogan ripped a two-run double, and Ferry lined an RBI single.

Manny’s (13-2-1) had its first four players reach in the seventh inning and scored three times, but it was too little too late. Brian Adamski, Hudson, Finck and Steffen Herter each singled, and Finck and Herter each picked up an RBI. Dave Talbot also picked up an RBI in the inning.

“I think it shows that we’re not great,” Magee said of the loss. “I think we are a good team, but we still have to do the little things to win, especially against a very good team.”

Joe Popielarczyk earned the win for Peoples with four strikeouts and one walk in the complete-game victory. Young struck out six and walked one in six innings in the loss.

Manny’s took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Greg Vouros reached on an error by the first baseman and moved to second when Popielarczyk threw away the ball on a pickoff attempt. Eric Libardoni then singled to left to plate Vouros.

Peoples came back in the top of the fourth. Young had been cruising along at that point. After allowing the first two hitters of the game to reach for Peoples, Young recorded 10 straight outs and had a shutout with one out in the fourth inning. Clark changed that with a double and then scored when Lerud launched a deep double to right-center.

Manny’s will try to get back on track tonight at St. Joseph’s Park in Thorndike at 7:30.

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