By Jim Sullivan
---- — The Newburyport Nor’Easters Senior Legion team made it four in a row last night with a mercy-rule shortened 13-3 win against Peabody (4-9) at Eiras Park.
“It was a great weekend,” said Nor’Easters coach Tim Southall. “I can’t say enough. (We beat) Haverhill 2-0 (Friday), Danvers 5-0 (Saturday), 3-2 win over Andover in eight innings (Sunday), and a nice walk-off win against Peabody today. So, the pitching staff has been rock solid. We’re back in first place.”
Joe Levasseur toed the rubber for the Nor’Easters (14-5-1) and gave up a walk to Matt Correale and a single to Mike Mackenzie with no outs in the top of the first inning. Nick Bona slapped a single to shortstop next to load the bases and Cam Borrelli scored Peabody’s first run of the night with a single.
Derek Demild was the starting pitcher on the Peabody side, and the right-hander struggled mightily to find the plate, giving up a leadoff walk to Tyler Chaisson to start the bottom of the frame. Chaisson stole second base before Kuchar drew a walk, and Josh Creamer moved everyone along with a single that dropped in left field. Demild hit Colt Fontaine with a pitch next to bring in Chaisson, tying things up with the bases still loaded with no outs.
Mac Short drew a walk next to put the Nor’Easters up a run, prompting a visit to the mound from Peabody coach Mark Bettencourt, who removed Demild from the game in favor of fellow righty Andrew Lessard. The reliever also had a hard time finding the plate, walking in a third run in the form of Brett Fontaine. Colby Ingraham was hit by a pitch for a run next, and Lessard walked in three more runs before the bleeding would stop with a 7-1 tally after the first inning.
Levassuer found his groove in the top of the second, allowing no base runners. Lessard looked a lot better, allowing two base runners and no runs.
Peabody put a pair of base runners on in the top of the third inning with a walk and a single. Borrelli singled out to right field to load the bases before George Tsonis drove in two runs with a towering double out to deep centerfield.
Lessard went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the third, and Levasseur did the same in the top of the fourth as both pitchers settled in nicely all the way until the bottom of the fifth. That’s when Brett Fontaine and Ingraham reached on a pair of singles, then both scored on a bunt from Zack Rice that resulted in an overthrow that saw Rice at third.
Chaisson was hit by a pitch next, then stole second before Creamer plated both runners with a single to center. He took third on an overthrow when he tried to steal second. Colt Fontaine drew a walk next before making it to third on another overthrow as Creamer scored. Short drew a walk to chase Lessard from the game in favor of righty Matt McIsaak, who was welcomed into the proceedings by promptly letting the winning run score on a wild pitch to invoke the mercy rule and end the game early.
“The pitchers didn’t throw strikes,” said Bettencourt. “That was the bottom line. Demild didn’t have his best day. Lessard came in and struggled early then settled down. But then he ran out of gas a little bit. We gave them the majority of the runs that they had, and didn’t make them work for it. It was not our best effort.”
Heading down the stretch and in a first-place tie with Swampscott, Southall was in a reflective mood.
“We started off (the season) 1-3, and we had 13 new guys down here with only five returners,” he said. “So it took a little while to come together as a team to believe what we were preaching. We’ve been playing 20 games together, and now it is a team. Everyone has bought into it, and we’re just playing great baseball now. We’ve got six games left, and hopefully we can make a run at the playoffs.”