(Groveland) Home plate was where the action was.
Both Newburyport and Pentucket had runners thrown out there.
The biggest celebrating there, however, was done by Pentucket as they gathered twice to congratulate Kayla Murphy after home runs.
Pentucket (9-8) held on to get a 7-5 win over Newburyport (9-11) on Wednesday afternoon.
The Clippers took a 2-1 lead into the fourth inning.
In that fourth inning, Emma Lopata walked ahead of Kayla’s first home run to put the Panthers (their new mascot) in front for good.
Pentucket added another run in the fifth inning on an infield throwing error, before Kayla went deep again this time with Sydney Pichette and Kendra Griffin on board.
Kayla joked that she “wasn’t trying to get any of the dogs in the dog park,” (located just beyond the leftfield fence).
Both of Kayla’s homers landed in about the same spot in left center. “I was looking for my pitch,” she said. “The home run pitches were low in the strike zone.”
Sitting on a 7-2 lead going into the last inning seemed to be a comfortable situation for Pentucket. After pitcher Molly LeBel retired the first two batters, things looked even more promising.
Credit Newburyport. They weren’t planning to go quietly. Five batters later the Clippers had the tying runs on the bases and the go-ahead run at the plate.
After an error on her first fielding chance of the inning, shortstop Kyla Murphy got a second chance and retired the last batter on an infield grounder.
“I was hoping for one good play at the end, and I got it,” said Kayla afterwards.
“Everyone did their job,” said Pentucket coach Deb Smith, “and Kayla crushed it.”
One thing that Coach Smith didn’t want to do was pitch to Newburyport’s Emily Meleedy. Twice the talented sophomore received intentional passes.
“She’s in the middle of the Merrimack (River) if you pitch to her every time,” said Coach Smith.
A key play occurred in the fifth inning. Newburyport had runners on second and third with two out. Emily Meleedy was at the plate. Pentucket opted to intentionally walk her which would load the bases. However, Molly LeBel’s attempt to finish off the intentional pass got beyond Pentucket catcher Ella Agocs. Olivia Skibbee, who was on third base, broke for home but Ella’s flip to Molly covering home erased the runner and ended the inning.
“That play was a turning point in this game,” said Coach Smith.
Newburyport coach Bob Gillespie was disappointed with the loss. “We have been making it a habit of needing comebacks after slow starts,” he said.
“We have also struggled to win on the road,” he added. The Clippers are now 2-7 away from home.
The Panthers are currently 7-1 at home.
The Clippers end the regular season 9-11. The May 23rd Power Rankings for Division 3 had them at #21. The top thirty-two get in the tournament. You also get in if you win at least half your games.
Pentucket is now at 9-8 with three games left. If they can win one of those games they’ll be in the tournament. As of May 23rd, they are ranked #30 in Division 3.
Molly LeBel: “Even when things got tough in the last inning, I knew that the team had my back. They have a lot of good hitters so mixing up my pitches was crucial. I was throwing as hard as I could today. I always try to do that but today I was actually doing it.” Molly gave up seven hits and struck out four batters.
Emily Meleedy struck out eleven but also gave up eleven hits. “She is an unbelievable pitcher,” said Coach Smith. “You have to go after her first pitch. We told them to be aggressive today and we hit the ball hard.”
“The ending was shaky,” Coach Smith added, “but that seems to be our MO. They want to give me a heart attack!”
Sophie Lavallee and Emily Meleedy paced Newburyport with two hits each. Cassidy Bolcome and Emily each scored twice.
Kendra Griffin led Pentucket with three hits while Emma Lopata scored three times.
Newburyport centerfielder Nieve Morrissey made two nice catches in Pentucket’s sixth inning. She ran in for one and raced back for the other.
Newburyport 0 0 0 2 0 0 3 = 5
Pentucket 0 1 0 2 4 0 – = 7
On April 28th Newburyport defeated Pentucket, 9-5 at Newburyport. The Clippers built up an 8-0 lead after four innings before Pentucket rallied late to make things interesting at the end.
The Panthers have won three straight.
I continue to misread the weather. It was sunny and pleasant.