By Nick Curcuru
---- — ESSEX — Although his team only had five hits on Wednesday against Manchester Essex, Rockport head baseball coach John Parisi was quick to praise his team’s performance at the plate.
The Vikings may not have hit any towering blasts or had any big hits that changed the course of the game, but they were disciplined.
With Manchester Essex pitchers struggling with control, Vikings hitters did not try to be heroes; they simply took what was given to them. And in Wednesday’s case a walk was just as good as a hit as the Vikings were walked six times and hit by two pitches en route to a 9-1 win at Memorial Field.
The win moves Rockport to 2-2 on the year, the Hornets fall to 1-4.
“We had good plate appearances today,” said Rockport head coach John Parisi, whose Vikings were actually out-hit 7-5 in the lopsided contest. “We didn’t get a ton of hits but we were on base all game. When we did get hits, they came at opportune times. We played well, it was a good win.”
While Rockport was composed and disciplined during the win, Manchester Essex was plagued by some problems that keep popping up early in the season. The Hornets have put together strong pitching, fielding and hitting performances this season, but never in the same game.
On Wednesday the Hornets put some decent swings on the ball, scattering seven hits, but could not deliver a timely hit. Combine that with suspect defense and a tough time throwing strikes and the result is not the desired one.
“We just need to put a complete game together,” Hornets head coach Bob Garrett said. “Offensively we had some good at bats but we didn’t get the hits when we needed them. A hit here or there with men on base and we could have been looking at a different ball game. We are still trying to find our zone on the mound and (Rockport) got those key hits when they needed them.”
Mike Tupper picked up the win on the mound allowing just one unearned run in seven innings pitched. Tupper’s defense also made the plays behind him as 19 of the 21 outs recorded were made in the field.
The senior right-hander ran into a little trouble in the third and fourth innings as the Hornets but each time he made key pitches to get off the ropes.
“It was a good performance from Tupper,” Parisi said. “He didn’t have his best stuff every inning but in those innings he dug down deep to get key outs. I was happy to see him come on strong in the end to finish what he started.”
Rockport got to work early on taking a 3-0 lead in the top of the first before Tupper even took the mound.
Tucker Meredith, who saw his first action of the season after sitting out the first three games with an illness, put Rockport up 2-0 with a two RBI double to the gap in right center scoring Adam Balzarini, who walked, and Tupper who reached on a fielders choice. Kyle Nelson drove in Meredith one batter later with a single to left field to make it 3-0.
The Hornets got a run back in the second when Kevin Carter came in to score on a dropped fly ball in the outfield after reaching on a single to make it 3-1.
That score would hold until the top of the fourth inning, when it all went south for the Hornets.
In the top of the fourth inning Rockport broke the game wide open sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring five runs on just one hit. Five walks and two hit batsmen helped open the flood gates and essentially seal the win for the Vikings. Tupper and Julian Flavin picked up RBIs after being walked with the bases loaded as did Nick Scatterday after being hit by a pitch. Conor Douglass came home on a wild pitch in the inning and Adam Balzarini came in to score on the innings only hit, a single from Caleb Tanson.
In an instant Rockport’s disciplined plate approach and Manchester Essex’s inability to throw strikes moved the score from 3-1 to 8-1. Rockport would add one last run in the fifth when Douglass came in to score on a fielding error to cap the scoring at 9-1.
At 2-2, Rockport has now dug itself out of an 0-2 hole and is looking to keep the momentum going.
“We have played much better baseball over the last two games,” Parisi said. “The defense has come around and we have gotten the timely hitting. We need to keep this momentum going.”
agateHed:Rockport 9 Manchester Essex 1
agateText:at Memorial Field, Essex
agateText:Rockport: Douglass lf 3-2-0, Scatterday ss 3-1-1, Tupper p 2-1-0, Balzarini cf 2-2-1, Meredith 2b 3-2-1, Nelson rf 3-0-1, Kuykendall ph 1-0-0, Tanson c 4-0-1, Flavin dh 1-1-0, Ciaramitaro ph 1-0-0, Ryan 1b 3-0-0. Totals 27-9-5.
ME: Loebelenz rf 3-0-0, Wright ph 1-0-0, C. Carter 2b 4-0-1, Nesbit 1b 4-0-2, K. Carter lf/3b 3-1-1, Cirone c 3-0-1, Burnham ss 3-0-0, Fitzgerald cf 3-0-0, Desmond dh/lf 3-0-0, Gedney 3b/p 3-0-2. Totals 30-1-7.
agate_MLB_linescore9:Rockport 300 510 0 — 9
Man. Esx. 010 000 0 — 1
agateText:RBI: R, Meredith 3, Tupper, Nelson, Tanson, Flavin; ME, none.
WP: Tupper, LP: Bartlett.