AMESBURY — A young Amesbury baseball team had a tough opening to its season against Shawsheen Valley Tech at home Saturday.
The well-matured Rams put together a five-run blitzkrieg in the top of the fourth inning to leave the Indians reeling, and when all was said and done, Shawsheen beat the Indians for the first time in four years, 11-2.
"We knew coming into the season (we have) a young team," said Indians coach Gene Burnham. "But they're a great group of kids. They will be resilient. They're not really affected by this loss. They know that before the season is over, we're going to improve to the point where we will be more competitive, and we're all looking forward to that day."
Amesbury starter Eric Eaton looked good for the first three innings, sitting down the first three batters in a row. Eaton allowed a walk in the second, then went 1-2-3 in the third, giving his offense a chance to load the bases in the bottom of the frame against struggling left-hander Austin Cummings.
Cummings couldn't seem to lay off the high stuff and walked in the Indians' first run, then was relieved for right-hander Matt Lucia, who got the Rams out of any further trouble.
Then the top of the fourth hit like a ton of bricks for the Indians when Cory Suprey singled to short. Paul DePlacido singled to second. Joe Sodergren attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt and ended up reaching as well, leaving the bases loaded for the very large DH Joe Vitale.
The designated hitter sent a soft grounder back to Eaton, who tossed it back to catcher Noah Kligerman. Kligerman dropped the ball, and the Rams were on the boards as Suprey crossed the plate.
A Mike Bowse single to first scored DePlacido and Sodergren. Indian Nick Hawrylciw took the place of Eaton on the mound, but allowed a sacrifice fly to Joe Tower to plate Vitale. Lucia singled to short to score Bowse to put the Rams up 5-1.
Amesbury came back in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI double from Mac Short. But that would be all for the Indians' offense as Lucia settled in.
The Rams continued hitting, adding three runs in the top of the sixth and another three in the top of the seventh. After a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, the Rams walked away with bragging rights.
"We handled the ball defensively pretty well," said Rams coach Jim Sullivan. "We didn't boot the ball, made no errors. After the third inning, we seemed to settle down and played our game."
"I think we have a good team," continued Sullivan. "We're an older team. We're a senior-laden team, we should be playing well."
Burnham agrees with Sullivan, having been in his position in the past and knowing that he probably will be there again soon enough.
"When you don't have a lot of kids returning to your varsity team, it takes a little time," said Burnham. "Our kids just happen to be a lot of sophomores. They're trying real hard. They're working hard, and their attitude is great. I couldn't be happier with what we're doing right now."
Sullivan knows the Indians will be coming after his team again, soon enough.
"Amesbury is a young team — they're going to be real good," said Sullivan. "They just need to work hard. They have a great coaching staff, and those kids will come together well if they do what they're asked."