Opportunistic Whittier defeats Newburyport 6-2 to reach Division 3 North finals

Whittier teammates gather around winning pitcher Andrew Wells

Whittier teammates gather around winning pitcher Andrew Wells

Andrew Wells gets a force-out at home

Andrew Wells gets a force-out at home

(Lynn)  Whittier Tech made the most of their chances and defeated Newburyport, 6-2, on Wednesday afternoon at Fraser Field.

The victory sends the #5 seed Wildcats to the D3 North finals to be played at Lelachuer Park in Lowell on Saturday.

Whittier (17-6) had two-out, two-run doubles (Ralph Francesconi and Anthony Licciardello) in the first and fifth innings.  They also scored a run in the sixth inning on a two-out wild pitch.

Scott Webster scambles into third

Scott Webster scambles into third

Newburyport (15-8) scored two runs but it will be the runs they didn’t score that they’ll be remembering for a while.  Let me list the opportunities they had:
(1) First inning – bases loaded with one out,
(2) Third inning – runner on second with no outs,
(3) Fourth inning – bases loaded with no outs,
(4) Fifth inning – leadoff double
(5) Sixth inning – bases loaded with two outs,
(6) Seventh inning – runners on first and second with no outs.

The Clippers did come out of those opportunities with two runs but their chance to have a really big inning was in place over and over again.  But it didn’t happen on this season-ending day.

Whittier starter Andrew Wells allowed only six hits.  Two of those hits (Colton Fontaine and Connor Wile) came in the first inning when a Connor MacRae fielder’s choice drove home the first Newburyport run.

Anthony Licciardello

Anthony Licciardello

The Wildcats set the tone for the afternoon in their half of the first inning.  They took what the Clippers gave them (first two batters were walked by NHS starter Connor MacRae) and followed with an infield single by Anthony Licciardello to load the bases with no outs.  A fielder’s choice (Jaylin Deveau) brought home one run and a 2-out double delivered two more.

Whittier added to their 3-1 lead in the fifth inning.  A bunt single by Connor Manning and an infield error by Travis Wile set the stage for the second 2-out, 2-run double.  Anthony Licciardello’s two-bagger to deep center put the Wildcats ahead, 5-1.

The Clippers got a run back in the sixth.  Connor MacRae reached on an error and his pinch runner (Caleb Stott) came around on Scott Webster’s triple to left.

The Wildcats put up a run in their half of the sixth.  Jaylin Deveau doubled to right center leading off.  Evan Habib came on to relieve NHS starter Connor MacRae.  Jaylin took third without a throw and with two outs came home on a wild pitch.  That gave Whittier a 6-2 lead which they preserved in the seventh inning.

Third baseman Colton Fontaine throws out a bunter

Third baseman Colton Fontaine throws out a bunter

The Clippers ended up stranding eleven runners.  The Wildcats stranded just three runners.

Whittier had five errors including two in the final inning.

Terrific execution by Whittier in the fifth inning.  After Brian Fiascone doubled to lead off the inning, Connor Wile hit a grounder to third baseman Stefano Zarro.  The freshman looked Brian back toward second and threw to first.  Brian took off for third when the throw was made but first baseman Jorge Martinez gunned a throw back to Stefano to nail Brian for a double play.

Andrew Wells

Andrew Wells

Coach Joe Boland opted to walk Colton Fontaine to load the bases in the sixth inning with two outs.  That strategy worked as Andrew Wells struck out Brian Fiascone to end the threat with only one run scored.

Anthony Licciardello had two hits and two RBI for Whittier.

Colton Fontaine paced Newburyport with two hits and also scored a run.

The Clippers best game of the season could well have been the 4-0 upset of North Reading yesterday.

Next year looks to be a serious rebuilding year for the Clippers.  Seven of their nine starters today are seniors.

The last time Newburyport played at Fraser Field was in 2011 and it was for the D3 state title against Pioneer Valley.  It was also on the same day that the Bruins paraded the Stanley Cup through the streets of Boston.

Whittier boxscore

Newburyport boxscore

(All of the pictures above and below enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Stefano Zarro gets a force at third

Stefano Zarro gets a force at third

Alex LoGuidice gets the fifth Whittier run

Alex LoGuidice gets the fifth Whittier run

Andrew Fiascone and Scott Webster

Andrew Fiascone and Scott Webster

watching warmups

watching warmups

Connor MacRae

Connor MacRae

Clippers head for final handshakes

Clippers head for final handshakes

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