NEWBURYPORT — On a hot, summer-like Saturday, Newburyport Clipper Dave Grabowski took the mound for his first varsity start and spent the day practicing a little pest control against Manchester Essex. The junior helped his team soundly exterminate the Hornets, 17-0.
"(We) take this, wash the uniforms, clean it out of our systems, and start over," said Hornets' coach Frank Morrissey. "There's not much to say when it's 17-0."
Things began swinging the Clippers' way well before they even had their first ups, as Hornets starting pitcher, Matt Curwin, began the outing by fouling a ball off his left ankle during his first at-bat. The freshman walked the injury off, but seemed a bit unsteady when he hit the mound.
The Clippers would have no remorse and wasted little time punching in the runs. The melee was initiated by a Tyler Stotz lead-off bomb that tore the cover off his third pitch, dumping it over the right field fence.
Newburyport would not let up for the next two hours as they ate through three more Hornets pitchers. The dismantling even prompted the Clippers' most diehard fans to cry "Uncle" as the sun continued to beat down and Grabowski cruised to a three-hit shut-out.
"We're just getting to the part of the schedule where we should win these games, and we are. We're hitting the ball, and we're swinging good," explained Clippers coach Bill Pettingell. "Everyone on the team got at least two at-bats, and that's always good.
"It was Grabowski's first varsity start and he did an excellent job, obviously. He pitched a shutout, and it doesn't matter if it's Manchester or if it's North Andover, he pitched a good ball game," continued Pettingell. Manchester Essex has scored a lot of runs this year against a lot of teams, and we didn't take them lightly,"
"We're making errors, and the pitching just didn't get the job done," said Morrissey, whose team was down to one player on the bench after rough games against Pentucket and North Reading earlier in the week. "And I think we got three hits. That's not going to win any ball games, especially against a well-coached squad. They're a good squad this year."
Pettingell is aware that a victory like this could cause complacency, and he hopes to avoid that with a showdown against Masconomet.
"A win is a win," said Pettingell. " I told the kids this is just as important as beating Masco on Monday. We've been aiming for Masco knowing that they're the prime competition. I think we'll be up for that game. A lot of times when the weather is hot like this, you're a little sluggish. We're going with our No. 1 pitcher right now, Tom Morris. Tommy has pitched good for us, and I'm sure he'll step it up."