By Mac Cerullo
---- — AMESBURY — The last time Newburyport and Amesbury played, neither team could pitch or play defense to save their lives, and the Clippers wound up winning a 16-15 barnburner mostly because they got to bat last.
This time, the Clippers settled down, made all the plays in the field and beat Amesbury on their home field 10-3, completing the rare season sweep of their crossriver rivals.
“I think we played great,” said Newburyport coach Lori Solazzo. “We executed, we finished plays, we hit. That was huge. When you have a few errors here and there, at least when you’re hitting and getting girls in you can kind of make up for a little bit.”
Newburyport took command of the game right out of the gate, when junior third baseman Shelby O’Brien hit a three-run home run in the top of the first to give the Clippers an early 3-0 lead.
The Clippers extended their lead to 5-0 in the top of the third after junior catcher Lauren Singer drove in junior first baseman Carley Siemasko and O’Brien with a base hit to right.
Amesbury got a couple of runs back in the bottom of the third, when senior outfielder Alexis Boswell and Lucy Scholz reached on infield singles and then were driven in on a two-run single by senior catcher Amanda Schell.
The Indians had a number of chances to cut into the deficit over the following innings, but invariably something went wrong to derail the potential rally.
In the bottom of the second, the Indians had runners on second and third with one out, when sophomore Zoe Fitzgerald hit a ground ball to O’Brien, who tagged out Autumn Kligerman by the bag and then threw Fitzgerald out for the inning-ending double play.
Then in the bottom of the fourth, Amesbury had runners on second and third with two outs, but senior outfielder Alexis Boswell couldn’t get them in, striking out to end the inning.
Amesbury’s outfielders also had some difficulty making routine catches at certain points, allowing the Clippers to extend their lead even further as the game went on.
In the top of the fourth, O’Brien hit a routine fly ball to left that should have ended the inning, but the ball was misplayed and fell in, allowing Siemasko to score. Singer drove in O’Brien the next at-bat, putting the Clippers up 8-2.
Then, in the top of the fifth, junior outfielder Meghan Stanton hit a catchable line drive to center that went over centerfielder Meagan Aponas’ head. By the time the ball was retrieved and thrown back to the infield, Stanton had already come around for a two-run home run to put Newburyport up 10-2.
Amesbury finally got another run in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI single by Kligerman, but Newburyport pitcher Victoria Allman shut the door before the Indians could get any closer.
“We have to catch the ball and hit the ball,” said Amesbury coach Chris Perry. “They just beat us. They hit the cover off the ball, they got some great hits and they made all the plays in the field.”
O’Brien finished the game 2-3 with a home run, 4 RBIs and 3 runs scored. All four times she came up to bat she hit the ball well into the outfield, with the first three resulting in extra bases.
“Shelby had probably her best game of the year, defensively and offensively,” Solazzo said after the game.
Despite her impressive performance, which also included a number of nifty plays on defense, O’Brien said she still felt she could have done more to help her team win.
“I felt pretty good. I could have done a little better, though, just some plays in the field,” she said.
Siemasko finished the game 2-3 with 3 runs, Singer went 2-3 with 3 RBIs and Stanton went 1-3 with her two-run home run. Allman went 2-4 at the plate to go along with her 7-inning, 3-run performance on the mound in which she allowed 12 hits and 1 walk along with 3 strikeouts.
With the win Newburyport improves to 7-5, while Amesbury drops to 6-4. The Clippers will be back home tomorrow to face Ipswich, while the Indians hit the road this afternoon to play Saugus. Both games will begin at 3:45 p.m.