By Jeff Hamrick
---- — AMESBURY — When a loss puts you on the doorstep of playoff elimination, finding a way to win is the only thing that matters.
That’s exactly what Newburyport managed yesterday afternoon, turning eight singles into a four-run lead that proved just enough in 5-4 road victory over Amesbury. Coming one day after a tough Cape Ann League loss, the Clippers can only hope this propels them onto a much-needed winning streak.
“It’s a rivalry game first of all, so it’s a big win” said Newburyport coach Steve Malenfant. “We got an excellent pitching performance from both pitchers. They did a nice job. And we got some key hits early to get a lead on them. (Amesbury) scrambled back ... but I felt this was one of our better games.
“Playing back to back is not always easy,” he continued. “We played a strong game yesterday (in a 6-5 loss to Lynnfield) and I think we played a pretty strong game today.”
Newburyport (4-8) quickly grabbed a 4-0 advantage on four first-inning base hits, a stolen base and hit batter. Two-run singles from Scott Webster and Dan Baribeault were the only balls hit hard in the frame.
The Clippers added their final run in the fourth when Caleb Scott scored his second run on an RBI single from Ryan Furlong.
“We just did our job type of thing,” Malenfant said. “You want to move runners along. We got some base hits and stole some bases. But our early success in the game really made the difference.”
Starting pitcher James Nutter, who gave up two runs in the bottom of the first despite not allowing a hit, was solid. He was accountable for all four Amesbury runs, but only one was earned, and he also struck out four with one walk. He gave way to Webster with one out and runners on first and second in the sixth.
“I knew what we were going to have with (Nutter), and the minute two batters got on we were going to make the change,” Malenfant said. “(Webster) came in last week in one game in that situation and did a great job, so it was good to see again.”
Webster, who started behind the plate for only the third time this season after making the switch from second because of an injury, did surrender two runs on a fly ball that was lost in the sun.
“(Nutter) threw a great game, but I think it was time,” said Webster, a sophomore who struck out three of the seven batters he faced while earning his first career save. “It’s different (moving from catcher to the mound). Not many people do it.”
Mac Short had two of Amesbury’s four hits. The loss was Amesbury’s eighth in a row and dropped the Indians to 3-9. Newburyport still has a tough road, needing to win six of its final eight games to earn a postseason berth.
“We’re looking for some momentum,” Malenfant said. “We have to win some games to put us in the tournament, and that’s our intent. These are the type of kids that can do that.”