NICK TORRA pitched a gutsy 6.1 innings to earn a 4-2 win over previously undefeated Georgetown at home on May 15. (Eric Evans Photo)



Published May 23, 2024


NORTH READING — With a post-season berth already assured, there was little else for North Reading baseball to accomplish down the stretch except perhaps a few subtle tweaks to their rapidly-improving defense. Then again, there is something to be said about honing one’s confidence with noteworthy late season wins.

Last Wednesday afternoon, for instance, North Reading welcomed non-league opponent Georgetown to Carey Park and played the role of spoiler, knocking their opponent from the undefeated ranks by a score of 4-2. Georgetown, top-ranked in the Division 5 Power Rankings and the only remaining team in all of Massachusetts baseball with a perfect record, gave up a three-spot to the Hornets in the opening frame and was unable to get to starter Nick Torra, who fanned three but more importantly, stranded five baserunners in scoring position.

“It’s not about me,” said a humble Torra, who also contributed at the plate with a two-out double in the opening frame, driving in a pair. “I just did my job today. It’s more about the people in front of me, the people behind me, and guys like catcher Matt Mancinelli who blocks every ball and does everything we need. But while every win is important, this one was a little more special, breaking Georgetown’s undefeated record.”

Torra was just shy of a complete game when he reached the pitch count maximum in the seventh. Dylan Matthews closed it, recording the final two outs to preserve the win for his worthy teammate.

“He would have pitched until his arm fell off if the rules allowed for it,” said North Reading Coach Eric Archambault of Torra, who improved to 2-1 on the season. “He’s such a bulldog on the mound. His best quality by far is his competitiveness. He wants the ball in every situation.”

Georgetown cut the deficit to 3-1 in the second, scoring a run off a triple, but Jason Curran, who leads the Hornets with 21 hits, offset the run with a two-out RBI-double. The dynamic Curran also continued to add highlight reel plays at shortstop, including a remarkable third inning put-out that prevented two runs, prompting Archambault to describe him as an “absolute wizard.”

Several days later, North Reading edged Hamilton-Wenham, 1-0, to improve to 13-6 overall. Ethan Quan, who currently leads the Hornets pitching staff at 4-2, threw a one-hitter, fanning 7. This was a cliffhanger which wasn’t resolved until the seventh inning when Ryan Labb bunted home Christian Lava for the eventual game-winner.

In the regular season finale on Tuesday, Newburyport claimed the series with an 8-3 defeat of the Hornets to go with a 5-2 win in the earlier meeting between these squads.

Facing Ryan Labb, the Clippers manufactured a go-ahead run at the outset but North Reading answered in the bottom of the first, scoring a pair off passed balls sandwiched around a Labb two-out triple. The Hornets made it 3-1 in the second when Quan doubled, stole third, and then remarkably, stole home.

Newburyport pulled even in the third with a pair of unearned runs off fielding errors and in the fourth, moved in front, 4-3, scoring a run off Torra, who had relieved Labb. In a chaotic fifth inning, the Clippers broke it open, scoring 4 additional unearned runs off a suddenly faltering Hornet defense.

The loss to Newburyport did little to dampen the achievements of this group, however. To their credit, the North Reading Hornets dispatched several teams by way of the mercy rule, won a pair in come-from-behind efforts, and knocked off a previously undefeated club, among other noteworthy feats over the 20 games played. Currently ranked No. 17 of the 70 teams that comprise Division 3 baseball, the 13-7 Hornets will now await the MIAA Tournament pairings, which will be announced next week.

“I knew there would be a few bumps in the road early this season,” said Archambault, referring to his senior-less team. “But honestly, I had every faith in the world in these kids. As the season went on, we had so much opportunity to learn and grow and I think that’s what took place. This is a tight-knit group that has supported each other, picked each other up, and overall, we’ve had a successful season.”