By Nick Curcuru
---- — Although the Rockport and Manchester Essex baseball teams entered Saturday’s Cape Ann League Small tilt with just six wins between them, the contest held great importance in terms of a postseason berth for both teams.
The Vikings and Hornets each reside in Division 4 North, and with the two teams sporting identical 1-2 records in division play, Saturday’s tilt was a must win for both teams.
After Saturday’s contest, it was Rockport that put itself in a good spot for a Division 4 North tournament berth improving to 5-10 and more importantly 2-2 in Division 4 with a 13-4 win at Evans Field. The scenario for the Vikings to get into the tournament is simple, they will play either Manchester Essex or Pope John in the championship game or consolation game of the Memorial Bank Classic this coming weekend, a win in that game and Rockport qualifies for the tournament.
“This was a must win for us in every way,” Rockport head coach John Parisi said. “Not just for the tournament but to get back on track. I think we finally put it all together (on Saturday).”
Manchester Essex (2-13) falls to 1-3 in Division 4 play, but still has an outside shot to qualify although it does not control its own destiny at the moment. The Hornets need a lot of help, they not only have to win the Memorial Bank Classic, they need to be the right teams. Manchester Essex has to beat Pope John in the first round Friday at Evans Field (4:00 p.m.) and then must beat Rockport in the final to move to 3-3 within the division and qualify for the tournament. The Hornets, however, need Rockport to beat Somerville in its opening round matchup on Friday (7:00 p.m.). If Somerville beats Rockport then Manchester Essex is eliminated even if it wins the holiday tournament.
“We made it a lot tougher on ourselves,” Hornets head coach Bob Garrett said.
Rockport jumped out to a 4-0 lead through the first three innings with three runs in the third and an Adam Balzarini solo shot in the second. But Manchester Essex answered back with four runs of their own in the fourth inning on an RBI double from Craig Carter and a three run triple from Kevin Carter to make it 4-4.
It was all Vikings from there on in as Rockport exploded for five runs in the fifth inning and four more in the sixth to take the 13-4 win.
“We came unglued a little bit in the fifth and sixth,” Garrett said. “And Rockport hit the ball really well.”
Stephen Ryan led the way offensively for the Vikings going 3-4 including what Parisi referred to as a “monster” home run. Caleb Tanson, Nick Scatterday and Balzarini each had a pair of hits while Mike Tupper and Conor Douglass had RBI hits.
“I think we showed the kind of offense we are capable of producing,” Parisi said. “We have been hitting the ball hard all year we just haven’t been putting rallies together or we’ve been hitting the ball right at people.”
Tupper picked up the win in relief for Rockport while starting pitcher Danny Ryan, an eighth grader, drew praise from Parisi for pitching out of a few tough jams in the early innings.
Kevin Carter and Cory Burnham led the Hornets offense with two hits each.