NEWBURYPORT – With a shot at the postseason slipping away, Newburyport needed a heroic effort on Saturday to keep itself in the hunt. They got one from James Nutter.
Nutter was nearly perfect on Saturday, throwing an extra innings no-hitter to lead the Clippers (5-9) past Hamilton-Wenham (9-4) by a score of 1-0 in eight innings to keep Newburyport’s playoff hopes alive.
“The team needed an effort like that, and he was dominant,” said head coach Steve Malenfant. “James had a great game, he had a number of strikeouts and no walks, and that’s something we’ve needed quite a bit and today he really stepped up.”
Nutter struck out seven and allowed no walks, hits or runs during his eight innings of work. Hamilton-Wenham’s only baserunner came as a result of an error in the bottom of the fourth, but otherwise Newburyport’s defense was rock steady and helped keep the normally potent Hamilton-Wenham lineup off the basepaths.
Despite Nutter’s performance on the mound, Newburyport wasn’t able to muster any offense of its own, after threatening several times over the course of the game, Newburyport finally broke through in the top of the eighth after Jimmy Gallo scored on a squeeze bunt by Ryan Furlong with the bases loaded.
Gallo initially reached base after being hit by a pitch and then stole second to get into scoring position. Caleb Stott walked in the next at bat, and then both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Chance Carpenter walked to load the bases, setting up Furlong’s decisive bunt to give Newburyport the lead.
Having gone the entire game without giving up a hit, Nutter came back out in the eighth inning to finish the job, shutting the door on the Pioneers to preserve the huge 1-0 win.