By Jim Sullivan
---- — NEWBURYPORT — After getting off to a rough 0-2 start, the Newburyport baseball team tallied its first win of the season yesterday, taking down Saugus, 9-5.
“We played Clippers-style ball,” said Clippers coach Steve Malenfant. “We played with the lead, which we didn’t have the first two games. And I think that was significant for everyone. That really helped us out a lot.”
The Clippers sent Connor MacRae to the hill at Pettingell Park, and the senior left-hander held the Sachems scoreless in the top of the first naming, allowing for Ian Michaels to start the bottom of the frame with a single. Michaels was bunted over to second, then came home on a crushed triple to leftfield courtesy of Colt Fontaine. Connor Wile drew a walk next, stole second, then followed Fontaine home on a double from MacRae to end the first inning up 3-0.
MacRae went 1-2-3 in the top of the second inning, and teammate Scott Webster started the bottom off with a single, then stole second. Webster was moved to third thanks to a single from Michaels, who stole second himself. Fontaine capitalized on an error at shortstop to score Webster. Wile drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases. The Clippers’ fifth run of the day came on a walk next, followed by the sixth as Sachems’ starting pitcher Tom Trainor struggled mightily to find the plate. Wile came home on a wild pitch for the seventh run before Trainor finally got Mike Sweeney to ground out.
“He didn’t get a lot of help early on,” Sachems coach Tom Gaeta said of Trainor. “We made a couple of errors, and there were a couple of tough plays. It was his first start of the year. He’s mainly in relief, but we had some extra games and some long games early in the week. But it was just a tough start early on for us.”
Gaeta brought in lefty Dante Deltorto to relieve Trainor in the bottom of the third, and Deltorto did everything he could to reverse his team’s fortunes, recording three quick outs. He then reached on a single in the top of the fourth and stole second. Trainor brought Deltorto in with a single next to put the Sachems on the board.
Fontaine started the bottom of the fourth off with a single and a steal as Wile walked again. Fontaine scored on a fielder’s choice. But Saugus would show some life in the fifth as Shane Ripley started things with a single, then grabbed third base on a wild pitch. Pete Pulicari walked and stole second before he and Ripley scored on a sacrifice fly from Victor DeMatteo.
MacRae struggled in the top of the sixth, giving up a walk, a double and another walk to load the bases with two outs. Two runs scored on a throwing error from Caleb Stott at short before MacRae caught Dan Cacciola looking at a third strike to end the threat.
Thankfully for the Clippers, the top of the order was next up in the bottom of the frame. Michaels reached first on a single, then stole second and third on an overthrow. Michaels then scored Newburyport’s ninth run on a wild pitch.
MacRae’s struggled again in the top of the seventh as the first two batters reached on a walk and an error at first, before the lefty found his groove again, getting the final two batters on a strike out and a pop up.
“We didn’t pack it in,” Gaeta said. “We fought and we fell a little short but we fought the whole game.”
“I’m happy for what our kids did, I really am,” Malenfant said. “It was well done. Connor pitched a very good game. He had his fastball working toward the latter part of the game. He had the curve when he needed it. Overall, he was keeping people off the bases and we played pretty solid defense.”