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Sports

May 17, 2014

Pentucket beats Newburyport to clinch playoff berth, eliminate Clippers

WEST NEWBURY – One team punched its ticket to the postseason yesterday while another saw its dream come to an abrupt end, as the Pentucket baseball team beat Newburyport 10-4 to eliminate the Clippers from postseason contention.

Pentucket (10-6) took an early 4-1 lead thanks to a handful of Newburyport (6-11) errors, and built on that lead from there to claim the decisive victory. The mood was somber as the Newburyport players left the field, with coach Steve Malenfant admitting to the players that he felt “awful” about the loss.

“We didn’t make the plays that we’ve been making,” Malenfant said. “We got some errors. In all honesty, we’ve been playing some really good defense, but today we didn’t play as good defense as we should.”

Those errors began to add up early in the game, with Pentucket taking advantage for a three run lead in the top of the second inning. Malenfant repeatedly urged the team between innings not to chase balls thrown outside the strike zone by Pentucket’s pitchers, to little effect.

Newburyport played more defensively as the game progressed, but gave up three more runs before putting up another run of their own in the sixth inning.

It was a game marred by errors and wild throws, with at least two Pentucket runs owing directly to Clipper players having to leave their posts to retrieve rogue throws. An overcast, rainy day made for even worse spirits in the dugout, as players kicked gear bags and mumbled curses after striking out.

Coach Malenfant congratulated his team for persevering through a tough game.

“We scrambled, we didn’t quit,” he said. “We’re not quitters, and that’s what I like about these guys quite a lot. That’s the whole deal, to make sure you compete.

He’s looking forward to the big Triton rivalry game on Tuesday, when he hopes that spirit will pay dividends. The Clippers will face Pentucket again next Saturday, a game that both coaches agreed would be a battle.

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