By Jim Sullivan
---- — The Newburyport baseball team ended Triton’s dreams of postseason play in Georgetown yesterday, taking the sixth annual Bert Spofford Memorial Tournament in the process, 3-1.
“I think we did a great job,” said Clippers coach Steve Malenfant. “Everybody has played so well in this tournament and down the stretch.”
Clipper freshman Scott Webster took the ball for Newburyport (13-7) and was greeted with a single from Nate Estabrook in the bottom of the first inning. Estabrook then stole second and went to third base on a passed ball, before Justin Cashman knocked him in with a sacrifice fly.
Senior Nick Cornoni took the mound for Triton (9-11) in the bottom of the first inning and let Webster and Chance Carpenter on with singles, but both runners were caught trying to steal second base. Ian Michaels popped up to send things into the bottom of the frame. Webster doled out a free pass to Jack Germinara, then hit Nick Derocher with a pitch with one out that saw Webster removed for the game in favor of Evan Habib, who would work out of the jam.
The Clippers made no noise in the top of the third as Habib settled things down for Newburyport in the bottom of the frame, only allowing a single to Hunt.
Jack Germinara walked in the bottom of the fourth inning, then stole second and made it to third on a two-out single from Estabrook. Cote Wolcik walked to load the bases. Cashman took to the plate next and struck out swinging to keep things at 1-0.
Carpenter had a leadoff single to start the fifth inning, then stole second and grabbed third on an overthrow before Michaels worked Cornoni to a full count and sent a sacrifice fly to right field that tied the game.
The game remained a stalemate all the way through the seventh inning, going into extra frames. In the top of the eighth, Ryan Short had a one-out single for Newburyport, followed by a walk from Fontaine. Brian Fiascone walked next to load the bases, and Colby Morris bunted in the go-ahead run on the second pitch he saw. Connor Wile drew a walk to load the bases again to send Cornoni to third base and Derocher to the mound. The right-hander gave up a run on a single to Connor MacRae that also caught Morris at the plate.
“I’m very pleased with Connor MacRae,” said Malenfant. “His base hit knocks in another run. It’s insurance, but great job. Evan Habib, coming in to relieve Webster, an outstanding job. He kept them off balance for the most part. He was just a pitcher, and I think it was one of those key moments for the team. He stopped any momentum (Triton) had at that point.”
Habib allowed one final hit to Germinara in the bottom of the inning before ending the game and Triton’s season.
“It hurts,” said Vikings coach Ryan McCarthy. “Because I thought Nick Cornoni did an outstanding job on the mound. He did what I asked him to do. And unfortunately, we came up short. Baseball is a mental game. We had our opportunities again to put them away, and I hope this is a lesson to the younger guys, moving forward.”
MacRae was named tournament MVP on a day that also saw the Clippers win a rain-interrupted game against Beverly at Salem State College, 5-4.
“We’re playing much more steady baseball,” said Malenfant. “The (team) is working together as a unit and that makes all the difference.”