By Tim Lima
---- — NEWBURYPORT – A late-inning comeback fell short yesterday as Pentucket fell on the road to the Clippers, 7-4.
Lauren Singer began the second inning for the Clippers with a single. Molly Kelley then drew a walk before Meghan Stanton singled. Victoria Allman proceeded to score the run on a fielders-choice ground ball, before Morgan Johnston, Ashley Hodge, Amy Sullivan and Carley Siemasko drew consecutive walks.
Eight would reach base for Newburyport in that inning, (5-3) and Pentucket (3-3) was quickly down 5-0.
Offensive production is a facet of the game that tends to come and go for Newburyport. Already on the young season, the Clippers have scored as many as 16 runs and as few as just one.
“We have our times,” Newburyport head coach Lori Solazzo said. “We have great hitters, but I wouldn’t say we are always hitting the way that we should be. Sometimes we need to adjust to certain pitchers and we are a little late at doing so.”
While Newburyport was finding runs early, Pentucket found its swing late.
While struggling to find timely hits and offensive energy for much of the game, Tyler Feeney was the Sachems’ spark plug in the sixth inning. Trailing 7-1, Feeney ripped a 250-foot line drive high off the outfield fence and rounded every base on her way to an in-the-park home run.
“Tyler is a great hitter,” Pentucket head coach John Walsh said. “She gets on base and can put the ball in all parts of the field. She comes through when you need her.”
Mary Kate Corrado followed with a single for Pentucket before Sarah Stewart found base with a walk. Suddenly, the Sachems were finding ways on base early in innings, though struggled to find a timely hit. Enter Nikki O’Rourke, who sent a fly ball deep into right field. Two runs would score before O’Rourke was thrown out at home while attempting a home run, but the Sachems now trailed just 7-4.
“We battled back,” Walsh said. “We got some big runs and had some big hits. The bottom line is we need to hit all game, and we just aren’t at that point yet.”
The perfect match for offensive momentum is timely pitching, something that the Clippers found from starting pitcher Victoria Allman. In seven innings pitched, Allman allowed four runs off 10 hits and one walk. She also struck out six, including two to end the game after a lead off triple by Maddie Binding in the seventh inning.
“To come up with two strikeouts in the top of the seventh when we had to finish it off was awesome,” Solazzo said. “It was great. She really battled back and had a great game overall. She does it when we need her to do it.”
For Pentucket, future success is dependent upon getting back to the past. After beginning the year with three straight wins and an average of 10 runs per game, Pentucket now has lost three straight and have scored under three runs per game.
“We need to get back to work and get back to where we started this season,” Walsh said.