By Jim Sullivan
---- — The Newburyport and Amesbury baseball teams matched aces yesterday, as the Clippers sent Connor MacRae to the mound to face off with Amesbury’s Andy Reidy.
In the battle of the lefties at Pettingell Park, MacRae carried the day, treating Amesbury to 13 strikeouts in a 4-1 win.
“We’re playing steady ball now,” said Clippers coach Steve Malenfant, whose team now stands at 7-4 on the season. “We still have a long way to go. (Reidy) pitched a very good game.”
Reidy looked good at the start for Amesbury (6-6), going 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first inning while MacRae gave up a double in the top of the frame.
Both pitchers allowed a hit in the second inning, but no runs would score. Clipper Ryan Short started the bottom of the third off with a double to center field, then moved to third on an error at third and scored on a bunt bid from Brian Fiascone to put Newburyport on the board.
Amesbury’s Mac Short started the top of the fourth off with a one-out single laced down the third base line, then took second on a wild pitch. MacRae was able to get Ben Cullen with a strikeout to end the threat.
The Clippers found themselves with one on in the bottom of the fourth, thanks to a wild pitch that sent Connor Wile to first. Wile then scored on a crushed double to right field from MacRae, coupled with a throwing error that sent the senior to third with no outs. Colby Morris drew a walk next, and Mike Sweeney plated MacRae with a single to centerfield to give Newburyport the 3-0 advantage.
Amesbury got on the board in the top of the fifth when Zach Fitzgerald reached first on an error at shortstop, then moved to second on a single from Matt Napoli. Both runners moved up on a passed ball, then Fitzgerald came home on another passed ball.
Reidy found his groove again, going 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fifth. He watched teammate Mac Short reach on a passed ball with one out in the top of the sixth. Shawn Bannon moved Short over with a single past shortstop. But MacRae settled down, getting Cullen and Fitzgerald swinging.
Morris hit a single with one out in the bottom of the sixth, and was pinch run for by Chance Carpenter, who immediately stole second and then scored easily on a single from Ryan Short. The Clippers had a 4-1 lead heading into the top of seventh. They saw a trio of base runners, but no damage done to the final tally as John Pesci was thrown out at the plate with one out and Devlin Gobeil struck out swinging.
“Our pitching is doing the job for us, and our fielding is coming up with big plays on occasion,” said Malenfant. “Ian Michaels’ throw to the plate (in the top of the seventh inning) to get an important run made a difference, and Connor (Wile) did a good job as well.”
Now at 6-6 on the season, Indians coach Gene Burnham tipped his cap to MacRae.
“MacRae pitched a very good game for them,” said Burnham. “I thought both pitchers pitched very well. In key situations, the Newburyport club seemed to get a couple of hits with base runners and we seemed to come up a little short. Sometimes it is a game of inches and stuff like that. But they put the ball in play.”