(Newburyport) Newburyport gave extra outs to Gloucester in the fifth inning and it cost them.
The Fishermen came away with a 4-3 win in the Saturday afternoon non-league game that was the opener for both teams.
“It was the first game of the season, and you could tell it at times for both teams,” said Gloucester coach Rory Gentile afterwards.
“It was a game that I feel we should have won but we made mistakes and you can’t do that against an excellent team like Gloucester,” said Clippers coach Mark Rowe.
The game featured three pitchers (Jack Fehlner, Zach Morris, and Brett Moore) who are all committed to pitch at the next level.
The Boston Herald had cited both teams as “teams to watch in Division 3.”
“Newburyport looked like a very good team,” said Coach Gentile. “That’s a team we may be seeing later on.”
Newburyport took a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning.
Junior Max Puleo was hit by a pitch, stole second, and hustled home on a two-out blooper that fell into short right field in the first inning.
In the fourth inning, senior Jack Fehlner lit into a Zach Morris high fastball and sent it over the left field fence.
“When we were down 2-0 it felt like 100-to-nothing,” recalled Coach Gentile. “We weren’t doing much of anything right.”
Things turned Gloucester’s way in the fifth and sixth innings.
In the fifth, Zach Morris tripled in teammate Brett Moore with the first Fishermen score.
“My first two times up were not what I wanted,” said Zach afterwards. “I was trying to do too much. The third at-bat I saw the curve and waited on it.”
The Clippers had two chances to escape with just one Gloucester run in that inning, but a line-drive drop, and a messed-up pickoff led to more at bats and two more runs.
“We played well defensively at times,” said Coach Rowe, “but we did make defensive mistakes that cost us maybe the game.”
The Fishermen added the eventual game-winner in their half of the sixth inning. Thomas Elliott singled, stole second and scored on Brett Moore’s double to right.
That 4-2 Gloucester lead was severely threatened in the Newburyport sixth.
The Clippers put three straight singles together off Zach Morris with Brady Ford’s single driving across Owen Tahnk. Another walk (Jack Sullivan) loaded the bases with no outs.
It certainly appeared, at the time, that Newburyport was likely to collect some more runs…..but they didn’t.
Coach Gentile brought in Brett Moore from left to replace Zach and Zach went out to play left. I am not sure if a coach could ask for a player switch to work out any better than this one did.
Owen Roberts flied out to left and Zach gunned down Jack Fehlner trying to score from third base.
“I got behind that ball and said, ‘we need this’ and let it go,” recalled Zach. The throw was perfect and a very fast runner (Jack Fehlner) was clearly out at home plate.
Brett Moore struck out the next batter to limit Newburyport to a lone run.
“We’re up one, no outs, with the bases loaded and we get out of it,” said Coach Gentile. “We need to not rely on getting lucky but get ahead of batters.”
Sophomore Connor Stick reached third with two outs in the last inning, but Brett struck out the final batter.
“Brett Moore (commit to Curry) is one of our senior leaders,” said Coach Gentile. “He had a great year last year. That’s what we expect him to do.”
The Fishermen collected nine hits off Jack Fehlner and Charlie Forrest. Brett Moore, Emerson Marshall, and Thomas Elliott had two hits each.
The Clippers finished with six hits. Owen Tahnk and Jack Fehlner each had two of them.
Jack pitched four plus innings. “I had a pitch limit in mind for him,” said Coach Rowe. “He could have finished that inning but it’s early in the season and I don’t want to hurt his arm.”
Zach Morris is committed to URI next season. “I loved the coaching staff there,” he said. “The energy I saw there was awesome.”
I asked Zach for the reason why his teammates and coaches were calling him, “Tuna.” “I was almost born with that nickname,” he said. “My godmother had a lake behind her house that I would swim in but never get out of. She called me, “Tuna,” and it got around.”
Plenty of sunshine on this Saturday afternoon at Pettingell Park. The wind, however, kept everyone from getting too comfortable.
(The pictures will enlarge.)