THE HORNETS came back from their trip to Cooperstown ready to take on the league. They beat Lynnfield and Ipswich in back-to-back games last week. (File Photo)
By DAN ZIMMERMAN
NEWBURYPORT — After compiling 39-runs in their three games last week, starting with an 8-7 defeat of Bedford in Cooperstown, New York, the North Reading baseball team’s offense ran out of steam in last Saturday’s meeting with Cape Ann League-leading Newburyport, dropping the rematch, 10-0.
Fresh off an inspiring baseball weekend in upstate New York, the galvanized Hornets returned home last week to win back-to-back games over CAL foes Lynnfield and Ipswich, both by way of the mercy rule. But Newburyport, which handed North Reading their season’s first defeat in mid-April, proved formidable from the hill, cooling the Hornet bats.
“That was a tough game, for sure,” said North Reading coach Eric Archambault. “We had been playing really good baseball and just put up a dud of a game. I have no doubt that these kids will respond like they have all year.”
In last Tuesday’s midseason clash with archrival Lynnfield, North Reading scored in all but the first inning, building an insurmountable 9-1 lead by the fifth and closing it out with a half-dozen more in the sixth. The 15-5 defeat over the visiting Pioneers marked the third such result, in which a 10-or-more run lead by the fifth inning automatically ends the game. Earlier in the campaign, North Reading’s mercy-rule casualties included Northeast Metro (12-2) and Georgetown (17-7).
“This was a game we really needed,” said Archambault. “After the Cooperstown trip, we felt a stronger sense of camaraderie and I was hoping it would show on the field today. The kids played with passion and energy and were ready from the first pitch of the game.”
Behind a stellar performance from starter Ryan Baker, North Reading put up a three-spot in the second. Aldo Vittozzi worked Lynnfield hurler Dan Dorman for a walk. Zach Rosatone flared a basehit to right followed by Anthony Corvino, who was aboard on an error. All three baserunners were soon home, on a successive Jack Fischer basehit, a Nick Ciardiello sacrifice fly, and a perfectly executed double steal.
Alex Carucci made it 4-1 in the third, unearned. In the next frame, the Hornets got to Dorman and then reliever Tim Pivero for three hits and four runs. Baker helped himself, drilling a 3-run triple.
Always a threat, Lynnfield sliced the deficit with four runs in their half of the sixth, but the Hornets responded in kind, batting around the order and tacking on six in the bottom of the six before the umpire called it.
“We know, in baseball, that hitting can be contagious,” said Archambault. “You saw that they put a few hits together and then fed off each other. This was a good team win.”
Facing Lynnfield, the Hornets took an early 3-0 lead. They duplicated the effort when Ipswich paid a visit to Carey Field two day later. The Tigers, armed with decent pitching and power at the top of the order answered to tie it in the third at 3-apiece. North Reading fired back in their half of the stanza, scoring three on Fischer’s two-out double. Three more Hornets – Craig Rubino, Carruci, and Baker – added insurance and in the fifth inning, put it away. One run short of a fourth mercy rule win, Carucci obliged, tapping the plate on a Rosatone sac-fly in the sixth.
Archambault had a little fun in this game, executing little-used plays to gain an early advantage. For instance, Rubino stole home in the midst of a Vittozzi walk. And later, Matt Ryan lured the Tigers second baseman by stepping off the bag while speedster Jason Curran raced home behind the play.
“Obviously, you want to get an early lead, especially when you’re playing at home,” said the coach, who enjoyed another lights-out pitching performance from workhorse Tim McCarthy. “The kids were very heads-up during those steals. They do a good job of keeping their heads on a swivel and seeing where the ball is at all times.”
As they’ve done following previous defeats this season, the resilient Hornets will put the Newburyport defeat in the rearview mirror and move on. First up is a Tuesday trip to Amesbury followed by a pair of home games – Hamilton-Wenham on Thursday and Triton Saturday morning.