By Jim Sullivan
---- — BYFIELD — The Triton baseball team hosted Newburyport yesterday as each rival squad battles for a postseason berth.
The Clippers (8-7) used the opportunity to jump above .500 again while slipping the Vikings (8-8) back to .500 by eking out an 8-7 victory.
“We struggled in some spots,” said Clippers coach Steve Malenfant. “We made some mental errors, but it was a great game. They had a great comeback.”
Triton’s impressive sophomore right-hander Justin Cashman took the ball for the Vikes and found himself in some trouble in the top of the first inning when Colby Morris hit a two-out double to deep centerfield, then scored on a single to right from Connor Wile. Ian Michaels kept the Clipper attack going with a double out to leftfield next and a single from Chance Carpenter put Newburyport up three.
Newburyport third baseman Colt Fontaine did his team no favors in the bottom of the frame when he allowed leadoff batter Dmitri Hunt to make it to second base on a throwing error. Cote Wolcik moved Hunt over with a ground out, then scored on a passed ball.
Cashman gave up a walk to Michaels to start the second inning and Chance Carpenter took advantage, knocking in Michaels with a double. James Nutter then plated Carpenter with a single to give the Clippers a four-run advantage.
The Clippers kept sailing in the top of the third as Nutter had another RBI single, but the Vikes would make more than a little noise at the expense of Port pitcher Evan Habib in the home half of the inning when Wolcik drew a walk, then moved to second on a single from Cashman. Nick Cornoni sent a single past third base next to load the bases with no outs for Adam Chatterton, who scored Wolcik with a single. Jack Germinara knocked in Cashman next before Brad Whitman plated a run with an overthrow to first.
Nick Desrocher jumped Triton up one next with a three-run bomb to dead center before Hunt grounded out to stop the Clippers’ bleeding.
Both Habib and Cashman seemed to dial in at that point in the game, going 1-2-3 each in the fourth inning.
Fontaine tied the game again with an RBI double in the fifth, then the Clippers jumped up one once again on a sacrifice fly from Brian Fiascone. But Habib would find himself pulled from the mound after pitching himself into a two-out, bases-loaded situation. Freshman Scott Webster came in to relieve the situation and would get Hunt to ground out to end the threat.
The seventh inning began amidst some confusion when Clipper Brian Fiascone was called the third out after mistakenly walking back to the bench from first with only two out in the inning, resulting in Wile’s being ejected. Threats of protest were leveled by both coaches, but never recorded as Webster struck out the side to end the game.
Vikings coach Ryan McCarthy made no excuses after a tough loss.
“We had our opportunities, and we didn’t take advantage of them,” said McCarthy. “They made some plays in the field, and we didn’t. We needed to get hits in certain situations, and we didn’t. I feel bad for my seniors more than anything. This was their last chance at Newburyport, and they really wanted this game. I just thought that we would come out and do it for them, and we came up short.”
Back over .500 again, Malenfant said he feels good heading down the stretch.
“Colton Fontaine is back,” said Malenfant. “He played well. And right down the order. We hit well, we pitched well enough to win. It’s a rivalry win and it’s a good win. It’s one we needed.”