By Jim Sullivan
---- — The Newburyport and Pentucket baseball teams met at Pettingell Park for the first time yesterday and the Clippers showed their fans that they can rally, overcoming an early four-run deficit to tame the Sachems 9-4.
“It was a good response by our team after a disappointing loss (Wednesday),” Clippers coach Steve Malenfant said after taking a nine-inning, 2-1 loss to Hamilton Wenham the day before. “We responded well as a team and that’s extremely important.”
Newburyport left-handed senior Connor MacRae started the afternoon off in fine form at the top of the first inning, going 1-2-3. Pentucket countered with right-handed senior Gerald Scutt, who was making his second varsity start.
MacRae struggled mightily in the top of the second when he hit Connor McGuirk with a pitch, then allowed a triple to Jake Bordeianu to score Pentucket’s first run of the day. The second run was scored by the next batter, Pat Beaton, who scored Bordeianu with a single past shortstop; and the third run was driven in with a double from Dylan Wright. D.J. Englke stepped to the plate next, scoring Wright with a single before MacRae would strike out Josh Creamer to end the bleeding, down four.
Clipper Mike Sweeney started the bottom of the second with a single and steal, then grabbed third on a ground out. MacRae drew a walk next before Travis Wile scored him and Sweeney with a double to deep centerfield to draw Newburyport within two.
MacRae seemed to find his way in the dark in the top of the third, going 1-2-3 again, and his offense kept pace in the bottom the frame. Brian Fiascone reached with a single and stole second before grabbing third on a strike-out, throw-out play and scoring on a ground out.
Newburyport tied things up in the bottom the fourth when freshman Scott Webster hit a lead-off double then moved to third on a MacRae single. Travis Wile hit Webster home with a double out to left field that chased Scutt from the game in lieu of Bordeianu.
“Pentucket came out fired up,” Malenfant said. “We made some mistakes as well, but they hit the ball pretty well. When we tied it, it loosened everything up and hitting is contagious.”
The Clippers then took the lead thanks to a double down the middle from Andrew Fiascone. Ian Michaels plated Wile before Fiascone scored on a passed ball. Connor Wile scored Michaels with a single to put Newburyport up 8-4 before the inning ended.
Webster started another rally in the bottom of the fifth, drawing a walk, then stole second and moved to third on a ground out. Travis Wile drew a walk himself before stealing second as Fiascone walked to load the bases with one out. Webster then scored on a sacrifice fly from Michaels.
Beaton took the mound for the Sachems in the bottom of the sixth and gave up no runs. MacRae ended up pitching a five-hit, 13-strikeout complete game.
“I was extremely impressed with the way Connor pitched,” Malenfant said. “The last five innings, he had control of his breaking pitches. And then his fastball got in there too, so he’s changing speeds well. He maintained his composure.”
“MacRae found his breaking ball in the second half of the game, and that was ultimately the difference,” said Sachems coach Tom L’Italien.
Off to an 0-5 start to the season, L’Italien saw some light at the end of the tunnel after yesterday.
“This is the first game where we finally competed — it’s taken us five games to compete,” L’Italien said. “Our pitching has got to be better, that’s what it comes down to. I thought our approach to the game was a lot better. It’s just too bad that it is taken us this long to get there. But we’ll build on the positives, show up to practice tomorrow and get ready for the next game.”