By Jeff Lander
ROCKPORT— By all intents and purposes the Rockport baseball team survived Triton Thursday night, squeaking out a 6-5 win in a crazy game at Evans Field.
Junior closer/infielder Mike Tupper saved Rockport from defeat with two strong innings in relief coming on in the top of the sixth inning with the Vikings clinging to a 5-4 lead.
The Vikings never trailed in the contest after the top of the first inning, but they were on the right end of a few close calls and a few more odd plays in the win.
Leading 6-4 heading into the top of the seventh inning, Triton made things interesting when Nick Cornoni led off the inning with a solo home run. After a ground out to short, Triton's Jack Germinara reached base when Rockport dropped a fly ball that put the tying run on second base. Tupper got the next hitter to strike out and made an even bigger play to get the final out of the game.
Tupper induced a weak ground ball that was in between the first and second baseman. With both infielders going after the ball simultaneously, first base was left uncovered. Tupper sprinted over to the bag to take the throw from second baseman Tucker Meredith and got the close call from the base umpire to finish off the 6-5 win for Rockport.
The seventh inning was not the only jam Rockport had to get out of late in the contest. Leading 5-2 heading into the sixth inning, Triton started to come back.
Vikings starting pitcher Tucker Meredith started to show signs of fatigue, giving up three straight hits to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Jedd Hutchings added a fourth straight single to left, bringing the score to 5-3. After Meredith walked the next batter to make the score 5-4, coach John Parsi turned to Tupper. With the bases loaded, nobody out and his team clinging to a one-run advantage, Tupper wasn't facing an easy task.
The first batter Tupper faced blooped a ball to right-field that looked destined to tie the game. Thinking the ball was going to be caught, the Triton runner left third base late and Rockport right-fielder Eric Littlefield took advantage of the baserunning blunder and recorded a force-out at the plate to save the run. Tupper completed the mop-up work with a grounder to short that was thrown home for the force-out and a strike-out to get out of the jam unscathed.
Coach John Parisi praised Tupper for his work out of the bullpen in a tough situation.
"Tupper has that type of mentality where he can handle that situation" Parisi said. "He's done it twice for us now in close games and he's turned himself into our closer."
Rockport jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead in the first on an RBI single by Tupper and a 2-RBI single by catcher Caleb Tanson.
Meredith looked dominant early, recording five strike outs in the first two-innings. In the second inning alone, he struck out the side, all going down looking. He ran into some trouble in the third, putting runners on first and third with nobody out. Tanson was instrumental in helping his battery-mate get-out of the jam by picking off the runner at third with a quick snap-throw. Tanson played well behind the plate and Parisi was quick to recognize his efforts.
"Caleb Tanson had a tremendous game," Parsi said. "He was throwing everybody out and had a big hit in the first."
Now 4-1, Parisi is looking forward to playing Masconomet on Saturday morning.
"Masco, in my mind, is not the Masco of old," he said. "They put their pants on the same way we do. Before, they had a bigger set of pants. They were big, fast and strong, but now I think we can we play with them."