By Jim Sullivan
---- — The second-seeded Newburyport Senior Legion team hosted third-seeded Medford (15-6) at Eiras Park to start the 2013 playoffs yesterday, and after stumbling in the first three innings, the Nor’Easters came back behind a commanding performance from right-hander Corey McNamara 6-3.
“I’ve got to give Corey all the credit,” Nor’Easters coach Tim Southall said of McNamara. “We let him down early. We had some mistakes. That’s very uncharacteristic on defense. But he battled. He kept us in the game.”
Kyle Boudrias greeted McNamara with a double out to center in the top of the first inning, and Jake Porrazzo followed that up two batters later with a single that moved Boudrias to third. Boudrias was then sent home on a single from Dave Center, and Porrazzo scored on an error by Josh Creamer at second base to put Medford (15-6) up 2-0.
The Nor’Easters (17-7-1) would go down in order in the bottom of the first, thanks to Post 45 righty John Lavoie. Medford would start the top of the second inning with a pair of singles from Mike Pizzi and Boudrias. But McNamara would wiggle out of the mess with a pair of strikeouts and a force out at third.
Colt Fontaine started the bottom of the second off with a single that was dropped by Pizzi in center. Fontaine moved on to second on a ground out from Colby Ingraham, then moved to third on the same from Mac Short. But Fontaine would be stranded after older brother, Brett, popped up to end the inning.
Center ended up at second to start the top of the third when Zack Rice dropped a routine pop-up in left field. Center then scampered to third on a pop-up from Tim Conroy, then scored on a double out to deep centerfield from Lavoie to put Medford up 3-0.
The Nor’Easters got on the board in the bottom of the third when Ryan Kuchar reached on a two-out single, followed by the same from Tyler Chaisson. Zack Rice was hit by a pitch next to load the bases, and Creamer would score two runs with a single that dropped directly in the gap in right field. McNamara would then dial in and allow no more Medford runs.
“I think he started throwing his curveball for strikes more consistently in the middle of the game,” Medford coach Ryan Kozul said of McNamara. “He started throwing it for the first pitch and made us think a little bit more. He definitely settled down and did a real nice job.”
The bottom of the fifth inning saw Post 150 strike for four more runs when Chaisson was hit by a pitch then stole second. Rice drew a walk next before Creamer loaded the bases with a single past shortstop. Colt Fontaine knocked in Chaisson next to tie things up before Rice was forced out at the plate. Ingraham reached to load the bases again. Mac Short strode to the plate next and laced a double out to left to give Post 150 the 5-3 lead.
Brett Fontaine then drove in one more run with a single that dropped between left and third.
“The second time through (the batting order) we started hitting the ball better,” said Southall. “We put it together and played well.”
McNamara would continue to cruise for the rest of the afternoon to give his squad the first playoff win of the season.
“We knew they are a very good team,” Kozul said of the Nor’Easters. “And we left two guys on in the first and second inning, and we ran into an out there in the third. You just can’t blow opportunities against a team like that. I think we had a chance to jump on them even more, early on and get a five-, six-run lead. When we didn’t do that, I knew it was going to be tough. They showed they’re a good team and they came out and swung the bats well.”
The Nor’Easters will next square off against the winner of yesterday’s Sudbury/Methuen tilt. That game will be played tonight.
“Guys are not trying to do too much,” said Southall. “It’s the first time they’ve been hitting with metal since high school. Now that we are in the playoffs, they switch over to (aluminum bats). And the guys kept the same approach. We told them, ‘Don’t try to do too much. Don’t try to hit a home run. Drive it up the middle, drive it up the middle.’ And they did that. We just strung it together, stole some bases and good things happened.”