ROCKPORT -- With a veteran squad, Rockport baseball coach John Parisi expected his team’s defense to be one of the Vikings’ strengths.
When the Vikings hosted Amesbury at Evans Field to open their season yesterday, though, their team defense was nothing more than a liability.
The Indians didn’t hit Rockport starting pitcher Conor Kuykendall hard at all, but seven errors and four hit batsmen was too much to ask any pitcher to overcome.
Ultimately, those errors did the Vikings in. Amesbury rode a six-run third inning -- all six runs were unearned -- and solid pitching from juniors Zach Fitzgerald and Andy Ready to cruise to an 8-3 victory over Rockport.
“If it wasn’t for the six-run inning it’s a 3-2 game,” Parisi said. “I didn’t expect that. I expect one of our strengths to be defense, and we just didn’t make the plays that we’re going to make all year. I know we are.”
Yesterday’s game was typical of an early-April New England baseball game. With cold temperatures and the two teams still far from midseason form, the game had a sloppy feel from the beginning.
Errors, walks and base-running mistakes were there from the start.
Each team, though, got good early-season pitching. Kuykendall and Fitzgerald each struggled with command at times, but they were each able to keep opposing batters off balance and prevent much solid contact.
The difference, though, was that Fitzgerald’s teammates made the plays behind him.
With the Vikings leading 1-0 after an RBI single from center fielder Adam Balzarini in the first inning, the Indians (2-0) got a stroke of luck in the top of the third inning.
After Kuykendall fanned the first batter of the inning, the next two batters reached on errors. The next was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for cleanup hitter Shane Bannon, who stroked a one-run single.