By Mac Cerullo
---- — GEORGETOWN — Though Newburyport will wind up falling one game short of the postseason, the Clippers ended their season on a positive note. The team won the Bert Spofford Tournament for the third time in the last four years, beating Georgetown 8-5 in nine innings to win yesterday’s championship game.
Scott Webster pitched all nine innings for Newburyport (9-11), allowing two earned runs on four hits while striking out eight over the course of the game. Travis Wile had three hits and three RBIs, and Travis O’Brien had 2 hits, 3 RBIs and a handful of exceptional plays at second base to earn tournament MVP honors for his performance over the weekend.
Newburyport took at 3-0 lead in the first inning, but the game wound up turning into a back and forth affair from there as Georgetown (13-7) came back with two runs in the third and then took a 5-3 lead in the fifth.
The Clippers cut the deficit to one in the sixth before tying the game in the seventh, and from there the game remained knotted at five well into extra innings before Newburyport finally broke through for three runs in the ninth to win the game.
Newburyport finishes the season riding a three-game winning streak, including one-run victories over both Triton and Pentucket. The Clippers played in 10 one-run games all season long, going 6-4 in those games while winning their last four.
Newburyport coach Steve Malenfant noted that had things gone differently in any one of those losses early in the season, the Clippers would be back in the tournament; but rather than dwell on the disappointment of going home early, he’d prefer to focus on the way his team finished the season and the foundation that is set for next year.
“I think we set ourselves up well for next year, the young guys did a good job for us,” Malenfant said. “Jake Barlow was amazing catching [James] Nutter yesterday, he really did a tremendous job, and he’s only a junior. We’ve got Scott, who did a great job on the mound. It’s just nice to have the type of kids that we have. As I said time and time again, I’d take any of these kids home as sons — they’re all tremendous kids.”
In the consolation game, Pentucket (12-8) beat Triton (7-12) by a score of 3-2 to finish with some momentum going into the postseason. Pentucket took an early 3-0 lead before Triton mounted a comeback in the last two innings, but with a man on third with two outs, Sachems reliever Pat Beaton got the groundout to strand the tying runner and secure the win.
Bobby Barry got the win in his first career start for Pentucket, going six innings while allowing 2 runs on 3 hits while striking out nine. He also drove in two runs on an infield single in the third. After the game Pentucket coach Tom L’Italien said he’s excited that the team will have the opportunity to keep going.
“We’ve been working for this for two years,” said L’Italien. “Now we’re looking forward to finding out our seeding and opponent and getting back to practice on Tuesday.”
Triton also lost to Georgetown 2-1 in Saturday’s preliminary, and as a result the Vikings will miss the postseason.
“It’s tough to swallow,” Triton coach Ryan McCarthy said. “We lost something like six one run games this year, and you figure that if we’d gotten a couple more hits in each of those games, then maybe we’re having a totally different conversation right now.”
In Saturday’s other preliminary, Newburyport edged out Pentucket 1-0 on the strength of another gem by senior pitcher James Nutter. Nutter came within an out of throwing his second no-hitter of the season, with Pentucket’s only hit coming on a bloop single to shallow right with two outs in the seventh inning.
Newburyport scored the only run of the game in the fifth inning after O’Brien walked, was sacrificed to second and then was driven in on a line drive double by Caleb Stott.
Pentucket and Georgetown will learn who their first playoff opponents will be tomorrow, when the state tournament brackets are released, while Triton will finish up its season today when the Vikings face North Reading at 10 a.m.