(North Reading) Newburyport lost twice to North Reading during the regular season but it didn’t matter as the Clippers upset the #1 seed Hornets, 4-0, in the Division 3 North quarterfinals at North Reading on a sunny Tuesday afternoon.
Newburyport (15-7) scored two unearned runs in the fourth and two insurance runs in the sixth and, combined with the shutout pitching of Colby Morris (6 hits/5 K’s), had enough to stun the D3 defending champions.
The # 8 seed Clippers have now won eight straight and return to action tomorrow (Wednesday) at Fraser Field in Lynn (4PM) to face Whittier in the D3 North semi-finals.
The last time Newburyport played at Fraser Field was when they won the Division 3 state title in June of 2011.
Ryan McAuliffe took the loss for the Hornets. Ryan had defeated Newburyport, 9-1, on April 17th striking out fifteen Clippers in a special victory that was Coach Frank Carey’s 700th win. This time around Ryan registered eight strikeouts but surrendered eight hits including a triple (Ian Michaels) and two doubles (Colton Fontaine and Scott Webster).
Winning pitcher Colby Morris struck out five while allowing six hits. The key for Colby was keeping the ball down as he limited NR to two flyball outs.
The unearned runs (4th inning) came after both Colby Morris and Connor Wiles singled with one out. First baseman Mike Brandano tried for a force at second, after fielding Connor MacRae’s grounder, but threw wide left of shortstop Ryley Warnock allowing Colby Morris to score. Later shortstop Ryley Warnock took a chance at getting Scott Webster on a slow roller and his throw went past Mike Brandano enabling Connor Wiles to come home with the second Clippers run.
The 2-0 lead grew to 4-0 in the sixth inning. Connor MacRae reached on a fielder’s choice with two outs. Ian Michaels, who had struck out twice previously against Ryan McAuliffe, blasted a high 2-strike pitch over Dennis Rollfs’ head in left field for a triple scoring Connor MacRae. Next batter, freshman Scott Webster, singled to left bringing Ian Michaels home.
The Hornets put two on with two out in the bottom of the sixth but Eric Gordon grounded out to second to end that threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, Shane Driscoll singled to lead off. However, Colby Morris struck out Ryan Sanborn looking and got Dennis Rolffs to ground into a 6-3 double play to end it.
NR had two on and two out in the third inning. However, Colby Maiola’s hard shot down the first baseline was snared by Travis Wile.
Newburyport tried a suicide squeeze in third inning but the bunt didn’t happen. Scott Webster, however, found a way to get back to third.
North Reading caught Colton Fontaine (he had doubled) in a rundown in the first inning.
An interference call on Hornets baserunner Dennis Rollfs turned a force-out at second into an inning-ending double play in the NR fifth.
The Clippers loaded the bases in the seventh inning but Ryan McAuliffe whiffed Connor Wile and got Connor MacRae to fly to centerfield.
North Reading was 22-4 in 2012. This season ends for them at 19-3. Coach Frank Carey’s career record now stands at 716-273.
Scott Webster had three hits for Newburyport and drove in a run.
Dennis Rollfs led NR with two hits.
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