By Jim Sullivan
---- — The Newburyport baseball team started its postseason off on a high note at Pettingell Park yesterday, taking down Charlestown decisively, 11-0.
“We take each game (as it comes),” said Clippers coach Steve Malenfant. “We had some good hits and everybody played -- 21 kids played, and that is nice in the tournament. You don’t usually get that opportunity and this time, we did. I’m proud of (the team).”
Eighth-seed Newburyport will next face the winner of today’s Division 3 North opening round matchup between top-seed North Reading (18-2) and 17th-seed Swampscott (10-11).
The Clippers (14-7) sent powerful left-hander Connor MacRae to the mound in their Division 3 North tournament opener, and other than giving up a walk to counterpart Luis Atiles, he struck out the side in the top of the first inning with no problems.
The right-handed Atiles took the ball for the ninth-seeded Townies (10-7) next and would let no base runners on in the bottom of the first.
The Clippers would bat around the order in the bottom of the second inning however, starting when Connor Wile drew a leadoff walk. Two batters later, Ian Michaels hit Wile in with a single and reached second base on an overthrow to first. Michaels scored himself on an error at second base that sent Chance Carpenter to first. Mike Shea then sent Carpenter to second with a single then went to second on a ground out from Ryan Short. Colt Fontaine sent both runners home next with a single past third base then went to second on another overthrow. Fontaine came home two pitches later on a throwing error at third during a Brian Fiascone at-bat. Fiascone then stole second and third and Colby Morris drew a walk.
Wile scored Fiascone with a single that dropped dead center in front of four Townies in centerfield, and MacRae did the exact same thing to score Short before Michaels popped up to end the inning that gave Newburyport a 7-0 advantage.
MacRae allowed a pair of walks in the top of the third, gave up another walk in the top of the fourth inning, then started the fifth giving up a free pass to Carlos Jimenez, who was moved over to second on a grounder from Donnell Dunn. Jimenez moved to third on a wild pitch before Atiles drew a walk. But Jose Cordero grounded out to second to keep Charlestown scoreless.
Ryan Furlong started the bottom of the fifth off with a double to centerfield. Caleb Stott was hit by a pitch two batters later and would be sent home behind Furlong on a first-pitch triple from Fiascone. Morris would plate Fiascone with a grounder. Connor Wile then crushed a towering home run to right field before MacRae drew a walk himself and moved to third on a double from James Nutter. That chased Atiles from the game in lieu of Cordero, who would get Jake Barlow swinging.
“I’m so happy for Connor MacRae and Connor Wile, they both had very good games,” said Malenfant. “(Fontaine) had a nice hit early on.”
Clipper junior Leighton Paradis headed to the mound to make his varsity pitching debut in the top of the sixth and took down the Townies, 1-2-3. Junior left-hander Cam Beaulieu took the mound in the seventh for Newburyport and let Donnell Dunn on with a single before getting the final out on a grounder with the next pitch.
“I’m so proud of this team, and I told them all that I want them all back and to be proud of their bright future,” first-year Townies coach Mayron Ramirez said of his young team that is fielding four juniors, two freshmen and the rest sophomores. “To come this far and to make it (to the tournament) when last year we had a 5-7 record. To have the opportunity to come out here and to show everyone that Charlestown is going to mean some business next year and a couple of more years to come.”