Newburyport 11, Hamilton-Wenham 2
SOUTH HAMILTON -- This time last year, Joe Clancy was just a sophomore reaching for the catcher’s mask because Newburyport had a hole behind home plate that needed filling.
By the late innings Tuesday afternoon, his team up 11 runs over a young group from Hamilton-Wenham and his 4-for-4, 2-RBI day safely in the books, Clancy was poking at his coach Bill Pettingell to put on the catcher’s gear for old time’s sake.
Pettingell couldn’t argue with the kid.
“I told him, today you looked like a pro out there among a bunch of college kids,” Pettingell said.
Clancy sparked an entire offense in the Clippers' 11-2 win over the Generals, his first-inning RBI single opening the floodgates in a four-run inning and his run-scoring liner to left in piling on another score in a seven-run fourth.
Then he caught a couple innings, just because.
Clancy pushed his batting average over the .400 mark this spring, but more importantly his performance helped push the 10-6 Clippers into the state tournament.
“I started off slow in the year, so I just tried to get back to basics,” Clancy said. “I feel like I’m starting to hit the ball well. The whole team’s hitting the ball. Hitting’s kind of contagious right now. Everybody’s on a good streak right now.”
Two at-bats after Clancy’s first-inning single, junior left fielder Kyle LeBlanc turned a 2-0 fastball into a three-run home run, one of his two hits on the day.
And in the fourth, the Clippers sent 12 batters to the plate, including first baseman Tommy Morris who had two hits in the inning, scoring a run on a single by Kyle McElroy and driving in a run with a double near the end of the frame.
It’s the third time this season that Newburyport eclipsed the 10-run mark. Another sign that the squad’s 1-4 start is in their rearview.
“It’s a roller coaster,” Clancy said, looking for a way to describe the season. “In baseball, things like this happen.”
Newburyport’s been waiting for the bats to catch up with its pitching. McElroy, a junior right hander, allowed just one unearned run in his fifth win of the season.
“We’re getting great pitching performances day in and day out,” Clancy said. “It’s easy for a pitcher when you’ve got a good defense behind you. And we’re starting to get the hits going now and we’re getting those together, then we can string together some wins.”
At one point Newburyport lost three straight one-run games, but over the past month you could argue there hasn’t been a better team in the Cape Ann League.
“We’ve been playing a little bit looser and with a little more confidence,” Pettingell said.
”I think that’s why we’re in contention.”
The Clippers tripped up then-unbeaten Masconomet last Monday, 6-5, and watched as the Chieftains took a second straight loss to North Reading, coming back to the pack it looked like they had lapped twice over.
Newburyport went into Tuesday afternoon expecting a little help from that same North Reading team, which who took a trip to North Andover, but didn’t get it. Had North Reading beaten North Andover, the top of the CAL would have had a three-headed Masco, Newburyport, North Andover monster.
But North Andover’s 6-5 win, gave them sole possession of the top spot for the time being.
“It’s going to be tough,” Pettingell said. “But we’re in the picture.”
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our winter correspondents:
- Emily McCarthy | @EmilyMcCahthy | BPS correspondent
- Jake Fischer | @GlobeFischer | Boys basketball
- Michelle Fenelon | @michfenelon | Girls basketball
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Boys hockey
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls hockey
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.