(Newburyport MA) The weather was perfect.
Manchester-Essex pitcher Kellen Heney was perfect…..through five innings.
But when the game ended, Newburyport was perfect (4-0) after defeating the Hornets, 7-0, on Saturday morning at Pettingell Field.
ME struggled in the field all game collecting miscues in five of the six innings.
“Our pitchers have been pitching well,” said ME coach James Weed afterwards. “I’m just not used to the kind of defense we’re playing.”
The shaky defense gave the Clippers a run in the fourth, but this was a one-run game going into the Newburyport sixth.
Then the wheels fell off for the visitors. An infield error and five Newburyport hits put six runs on the board and sealed this one for the home team.
Jack Fehlner pitched a complete-game two-hitter for the Clippers. He wasn’t overpowering (one strikeout) but gave up just two walks.
“Jack was in total command,” said Newburyport coach Mark Rowe post-game. “It was as good as I’ve seen him pitch. It was his first complete game.”
Catcher Nick White: “Jack’s fastball was working today. Usually, it’s the off-speed pitch but today the fastball was the primary out pitch. He challenged them.”
The Clippers 1-0 lead looked anything but secure heading into the bottom of the sixth inning.
“The scoreboard doesn’t show how close this game really was,” added Jack Fehlner. “They’re a great team.”
Senior Jake Buontempo was in the middle of the Newburyport success in the sixth inning.
Jake ended Kellen Heney’s hitless streak with a double that drove in Luke Stallard who had reached on an infield error.
Rare play alert! Demetri Connor popped the ball behind the plate near the backstop. Catcher Michael Quill and pitcher Kellen Heney both went after it and Michael got it. Jake alertly took advantage and raced in from third.
Jake reached third on Nick White’s infield hit.
“I was watching to see where the pitcher was going,” recalled Jake. “He followed the catcher to the backstop, so I knew the plate was wide open and I took what I had.”
Jake also made a nice running catch in rightfield in the fifth inning and ended the game with a routine catch.
The Hornets (1-4) are the defending Division 4 state champions. I was at LaLacheur Park (Lowell) on June 22, 2019 when they defeated Tahanto, 5-2.
Will Levendusky was part of that team but a football injury has kept him from playing so far.
“It hurts not to have Will but for us it’s “next man up,” said Coach Weed. “We have three freshmen playing. We’re just trying to find the right formula. We’ll get it going. We’ll make a run.”
Freshman Kellen Heney was the starter and winner in the state title game. He’s now a junior.
“Their pitcher was good,” explained Jake Buontempo. “He could locate really well. Toward the end we started to catch onto him.”
Coach Mark Rowe: “It was two top-notch pitchers out there. Unfortunately, his defense let him down a bit. We challenged by putting balls in play and forcing them to make plays. When they didn’t make plays, we took advantage.”
AJ Pallazola and Michael Quill had the hits for Manchester-Essex.
Jack Fehlner: “It was a beautiful day to be out here with the guys. Our guys made plays. I’ll put some ice on my arm and get back at it Tuesday against Lynnfield.”
Speaking of ice, I have a picture of Will Levendusky pouring the contents of an ice bucket over the head of Coach Weed in the celebrating after the D4 title win. On that hot day and under those circumstances, it probably felt pretty good.
Remarkable weather and plenty of fans from both schools out enjoying it.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)