By Jim Sullivan
---- — The Newburyport Nor’Easters hosted North Andover at Eiras Park last night and they didn’t play very good hosts, mercy-ruling Post 219 in the sixth inning, 12-2.
“It was a great night,” said Nor’Easters coach Tim Southall. “Offensively, we did what we needed to do. Hitting the other way and hitting in the middle with the wood bats. Guys are starting to read into it so it was a good win. I’m very pleased.”
The Nor’Easters sent left hander Connor MacRae to the mound, and he didn’t disappoint, going 1-2-3 in the top of the first inning. Mike Spring took the ball for North Andover and the righty gave up a leadoff single to Josh Creamer that ate up third baseman Matt Varoutsos. Spring then walked Zack Rice before Colt Fontaine moved Creamer over to third with a single that caught Rice at second. He then moved to second himself on a walk to his older brother, Brett. But Mac Short hit into a double play to wriggle Spring out of the jam.
MacRae gave up a two-out walk to Cole Goodman in the top of the second inning. Goodman then moved to second on what should have been a single for Austin Flinn. But Goodman was caught trying to make it to third, sending the Nor’Easters back to the plate where Joe Levasseur drew a one-out walk then moved to second on a passed ball. But Spring found the bounce in his step again, taking down Tyler Chaisson and DJ Engelke back-to-back.
Evan Gleu drew a one-out walk in the top of the third inning and moved to second on an error by second baseman Creamer that also saw Myles Couyoumjian reaching first as well. MacRae began throwing hard, taking down the next two batters back-to-back. But both pitchers were now showing their weaknesses, and the Nor’Easters would bat around the order for six runs in the bottom of the third inning.
Rice started the proceedings off with a one-out walk then moved to second on a single from Colt Fontaine. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, and Brett Fontaine loaded the bases drawing a walk. Rice scored the Nor’Easters’ first run of the day when Short drew a walk. Colt Fontaine came in next on a single from Colby Ingraham and Levasseur walked in Brett Fontaine. Two more runs scored on a single from Chaisson. Engelke struck out next before Creamer knocked in Levasseur with a single past second.
Spring returned to the mound in the bottom of the fourth and was greeted by a home run, the Nor’Easters’ first of the season, from Colt Fontaine, before Brett drew a walk that would see Spring lifted for Goodman.
“I was 3-0, so I was looking for a fastball and I got it,” Colt Fontaine said of his dinger. “It’s good to finally get one.”
Brett Fontaine stole second and moved to third on a single to centerfield from Short. The elder Fontaine then came in on another single to center, this time from Ingraham.
MacRae found himself in a bit of jam in the top of the sixth inning when he walked the bases loaded. One run scored on a grounder from Goodman and another run scored on a sacrifice fly from Flinn. But that would be all for North Andover as Engelke added an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning and the Brothers Fontaine knocked in the next three runs to end the game early.
“Connor came out and he pitched really well,” Southall said of MacRae. “He threw a little bit in a non-league game, but he came out tonight for his first start of the year and did exactly what he wanted to do. He pounded the zone.”
Now at 6-3 on the season after a bumpy early start, Southall said his team is starting to get into a groove.
“I think these guys took a little bit longer hitting with the wood (bats),” said Southall. “A lot of these guys haven’t hit with wood before, which is just different. You can’t try to hit home runs. We had one tonight, but for the most part, these guys have to learn that you’ve got to stay back and hit the other way.”