ROCKPORT— The 15th seeded North Shore Tech softball team had No. 2 Rockport on upset alert Sunday in the Division 3 North First Round.
The Bulldogs out-hit the Vikings 9-5, did not allow an earned run in the contest and put two runners on base in each of the last three innings. Rockport, however, was the more clutch team taking advantage of its opportunities while senior pitcher Kristin Turner pitched out of several jams en route to a razor thin 4-3 win on a windy and drizzly day at Rockport High School.
With the win No. 2 Rockport (15-4) moves on to the Division 3 North Quarter Finals on Tuesday where it will host No. 7 Whittier Tech (3:30 p.m.).
"We had them on the ropes but we couldn't finish them," North Shore Tech head coach Joe Balzarini said. "We had a ton of opportunities but couldn't come through in the clutch. But I'm proud of the team, they played hard and put a scare into the No. 2 team in the Division, we just had one bad inning."
Rockport head coach Dianne Parisi was quick to praise her team, especially in important situations.
"(North Shore Tech) had a lot of opportunities but we found a way to get out of jams," Parisi said. "That's the way we have done things all year. When we are put in a bad spot we have found ways to get out of them. Tonight Kristin pitched great and she knows she has the defense behind her to make plays. It was a great team win."
Ahead 4-1 entering the top of the sixth inning, things got a little hairy for the Vikings. With two walks to start the inning, North Shore Tech (12-8) center fielder and Gloucester resident Kelsey Webber ripped an RBI double into the left center field gap plating two runs and cutting the Vikings lead to 4-3.
After a single and a walk loaded the bases with nobody out, Turner came up big striking out one batter, inducing a fly out to left field and getting a routine ground ball to shortstop to end the inning and preserve the one run lead.
It got a little more dicey for Rockport in the seventh. Turner got the first batter to fly out to right field but the next three hitters reached base on a single and a pair of walks. Once again, the Cape Ann League Division 3 Player of the Year came up big inducing a pop up for the second out and finishing off the win with a strikeout to send the Vikings to the Quarter Finals.
Rockport got all the runs it needed in the top of the third thanks to some sloppy defense from the Bulldogs. Haley Lorden led off the inning reaching base on a throwing error followed by a bunt single from her sister Hannah Lorden. Haley Lorden would score one batter later when Amanda Chalmers reached on a throwing error making it 1-0 Rockport. Hannah Lorden then scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.
After Mollie Watson walked to load the bases, third baseman Kayla Parisi reached on yet another Bulldogs throwing error that scored Chalmers and Watson giving the Vikings a 4-0 lead, one they would not relinquish.
"We did a good job taking advantage of our opportunities in the third," Parisi said. "We played some small ball laying down some nice bunts and making the defense make plays."
North Shore Tech got on the board in the top of the fourth inning when Holly Ryan, who reached on a single, tagged up and scored on a pop up to second base that did not even reach the outfield grass to cut the lead to 4-1.
Turner and North Shore Tech pitcher Amanda Lucey both pitched great games as Turner allowed three runs on nine hits while striking out nine. Turner also pitched out of a second and third nobody out jam in the second inning by striking out the side.
Lucey also had a strong outing going the distance allowing five hits and no earned runs while striking out 11.
Hannah Lorden led the Vikings offense reaching base four times with three of the team's five hits. Webber and Ryan led the way for North Shore Tech with three hits each.