By Jim Sullivan
---- — NEWBURYPORT — After suffering a loss to Georgetown Friday afternoon, the Newburyport baseball team’s woes continued Saturday morning as the Clippers (7-6) dropped their second game of the weekend to Lynnfield 3-0.
Pioneer pitcher Greg Basilesco shut down the Clippers on the heels of Lynnfield’s 2-0 loss to North Reading Friday.
“We didn’t hit,” Clippers coach Steve Malenfant said. “Not as well as we’re capable of. We’re in a funk right now and we’ve got to get out of it.”
Senior right-hander Colby Morris took the mound for the Clippers and gave up a two-out double to Jordan Roper in the top of the first inning, then walked Nick Bruno. Roper grabbed third on a passed ball next as Morris struggled with his location and walked Connor Lordan to load the bases. Basilesco sent a single past third in the next at-bat to plate Roper before second baseman Brian Fiascone caught a liner directly at him to end the Pioneer rally at only one run.
Basilesco took the ball for Lynnfield (8-5) in the bottom of the first then proceeded to take down the order on five pitches. Morris found the plate in the top of the second, going 1-2-3 himself with two strikeouts along the way.
The sophomore Pioneer was perfect once again in the bottom of the second while Roper reached in the top of the third with a single. He was bunted over to second then moved to third on a ground out. But Morris got Lordan to pop out to center before the Pioneers could draw blood.
The Clippers had their first baserunner in the bottom of the third when Mike Sweeney hit a single past third base, then stole second. But that would be all Newburyport could muster as Basilesco’s defense looked good behind him.
Morris had a seven-pitch top of the fourth before teammate Connor Wile had a two-out single in the bottom of the frame. Wile was stranded, and then Morris went 1-2-3 in the top of the fifth before his offense went down in a row again.
Roper continued to be a thorn in Morris’ side, starting the top of the sixth off with a single, then grabbed second and third on a passed ball before scoring on an error at first base that put Lordan at second. A throwing error at third put Basilesco at first and Lordan at third before a walk to AJ Gallo loaded the bases with one out. A pop-up to center from Conor Sullivan and a communication breakdown in the infield plated Lordan next to give the Pioneers their three-run lead.
Newburyport went down 1-2-3 again in the sixth, while the Pioneers did the same in the top of the seventh. Morris started the Clippers’ final ups with a single to left field, but that would be it as Basilesco recorded the complete game shutout on three hits, one strikeout and no walks.
“He’s pitched very well this year,” Pioneers coach John O’Brien said of Basilesco. “He’s around the plate, he just throws strikes. He pitches to contact, so we ask the kids to play great defense behind him and they did that today. We had a couple of timely hits and today, we played pretty well. Sometimes it works, sometimes it breaks down.”
“Their kid pitched well enough,” said Malenfant. “We had some problems in the field, but I thought that (Morris) pitched a good game after struggling early.”
The Clippers will have to get their ducks back in a row and quickly before they head to North Reading tomorrow to face the undefeated defending Division 3 state champion Hornets.
“We’ve got a big one coming up against North Reading,” said Malenfant. “We’ll see which team comes out of it.”