, Newburyport, MA

May 15, 2014

Newburyport and Triton baseball may not be finished after all

Mac Cerullo
Newburyport Daily News

---- — I’m going to be honest, at this point last week, I thought Newburyport and Triton baseball were both toast.

Last Thursday, Newburyport lost both games of a double-header to North Reading and fell to 4-9 on the season. At that point, the Clippers had lost four of their last five games and needed to win six of their last seven games to qualify for the postseason.

Considering that Newburyport’s remaining schedule included games against Hamilton-Wenham (9-5), Masconomet (14-2), two against Pentucket (9-5) and a road game against archrival Triton, the idea that the Clippers could navigate that gauntlet and actually reach the postseason seemed like an unlikely proposition at best.

As for Triton, the Vikings fell to 5-8 over the weekend following a dispiriting home loss to Saugus. With a road game at Masconomet looming, it seemed as if things were going to get worse for Triton before they got better.

But then something unexpected happened. Newburyport and Triton both won, and in doing so they thumbed their noses at the notion that their seasons were lost.

Triton’s 3-0 shutout of Masconomet on Tuesday was unquestionably the biggest upset in the Cape Ann League this season and could prove to be a season changing win for the Vikings. When Masconomet and Triton played earlier this year, it was a slaughter. Masconomet beat Triton 24-6, and the game was every bit as ugly as the score would suggest.

The fact that Triton was able to bounce back from a game like that and shut out one of the best teams in the state speaks volumes, and at 6-8, the idea that the Vikings could sneak into the playoffs no longer seems so farfetched.

And that’s to say nothing about what happened in Newburyport’s game against Hamilton-Wenham on Saturday. Facing a do or die situation, Newburyport pitcher James Nutter took the mound and pitched a no hitter, shutting down the Generals from the first pitch on before slamming the door shut once the Clippers finally gave him a lead in the eighth.

Then on Tuesday, the Clippers kept rolling by beating Saugus 2-1 in 10 innings to improve to 6-9. It was the eighth time this season that Newburyport has seen a game decided by one run, and after coming out on the losing end for four of the first six, the Clippers are finally starting to see things come around their way.

Their luck may be turning around from a scheduling standpoint as well. Newburyport faces Masconomet today on the road, and the Clippers might be getting the Chieftains at the perfect time. After going 14-0 to start the season, Masconomet has now lost its last two games in a row, so the Clippers will be getting the Chieftains when they’re at their most vulnerable, at least in theory.

Now, to be clear, both of these teams still have a long way to go and little margin for error, but a late-season comeback to reach the postseason is well within the realm of possibility. All the Clippers and Vikings have to do is keep winning, and maybe, just maybe, they might be able to pull it off.

And if they do keep winning, then next Tuesday’s showdown between the two teams at Triton could be very interesting.

Follow Mac on Twitter at @MacCerullo.