By Jim Sullivan
---- — AMESBURY — The battle for second place in the Cape Ann League Division 2 baseball standings was settled in a pitchers’ duel in Amesbury Saturday. The Indians (4-4) outlasted Rockport behind their left-handed ace, Andy Reidy, to pull into a tie for second place, 1-0.
“I’m just happy with the overall effort and attitude of this team right now,” said Indians coach Gene Burnham. “I think we can make a swing and get back into the race.”
Reidy took to the mound for the Indians and had no blemishes in the top of the first inning before Rockport righty Conor Kuykendall had his chance in the bottom of the frame. The Indians’ leadoff batter Adam Ivancic reached on a single, then grabbed second on a ground out. Ivancic took third on an error at third that saw Tommy Connors reaching first. Ivancic then scored on a single from Mac Short, who was thrown out at the plate two batters later to end the threat.
“I was trying to get my control down for a while,” Kuykendall said of his first inning. “But after that, I just settled in and was on target for the rest of the game. It was a good team effort, we just needed more runs.”
Kuykendall surrendered the one run on three hits, one walk and three strikeouts before settling in, and Reidy kept on cruising, being stung for only two hits with seven strikeouts. He watched when Ivancic made a spectacular diving catch in leftfield in the fourth inning.
“He got a great jump on it,” Burnham said of Ivancic. “That ball was dipping fast. He had to come in hard, he dove, fully extended, and caught it just off the grass. But, you know what, we see him do that every day in practice.”
“That was unbelievable,” said Reidy. “I think we can beat any team in the league if we play like that every day, day in and out.”
Both teams threatened on occasion for the rest of the day, but both defenses worked well enough that no one would cross the plate.
“We just made the plays when they needed to be made,” Reidy said. “I couldn’t have done it without my defense behind me. First, second, short, third base, infield, outfield, everybody, they all made the plays. The catcher blocked the balls when they needed to be blocked, it was an all-around team effort.”
Back up to .500 on the season, Burnham says his team’s season is looking up.
“We had been in a bit of a tailspin,” said Burnham. “We were falling behind in games. We weren’t getting it done. You lose a couple of games by a couple of runs, then you start to struggle. And we just talked yesterday about a ‘Today is the first day of the season’ type of thing. We came out and had a great pitching performance by Andy. He was fantastic, he kept us in the game, the whole game. Their pitcher, I thought, did a good job. I thought there were a lot of good plays in the game. But it was a pitchers’ duel and we managed to scrape one across.”
“If we keep going the way that we started today, like coach said, it’s a brand-new day,” said Reidy. “We came back from the last game where we struggled. We came back for a new practice, a new everything. Start fresh and see how it goes.”
With his team falling to 3-3, Vikings coach John Parisi is confident in Kuykendall but weary of his offense.
“It was a really good baseball game,” said Parisi. “Connor pitched really well, he pitches a complete game but again, the bats were silent. And that’s been the story of our season. Not to take anything away from their pitcher, he’s a good pitcher, but we are just not hitting the ball very hard. We just weren’t swinging like men, and we’ve got to start.”