PLYMOUTH — Making the most of his fastball and slider, Newmarket hurler Andrew Oliver fired a three-hit shutout and the fifth-seeded Mules surprised No. 1 and previously unbeaten Portsmouth Christian of Dover, 4-0, in the Division IV baseball semifinals at Plymouth State University’s Panther Field on Thursday.
Oliver faced no more than four Eagles in any one inning except the fourth when five Portsmouth Christian batters came to the plate. Though the Eagles put runners on third base in four of the frames, none scored.
“Andrew kept the hitters off balance,” said Newmarket coach Stan Jurkoic. “He had his game on today.”
The teams met twice during the regular season and Portsmouth Christian came away the winner in both contests.
“We felt we could play better today,” said Jurkoic. “I told the team before the game that if we play clean against these guys, it would be a competitive game.”
All of Newmarket’s scoring came in the top of the fourth when the Eagles suffered the only defensive lapse in the game.
Sam Morris opened the Mules inning with a base hit and Jeff Carmichael was struck by a pitch. Kevin Clougherty dropped a sacrifice bunt, but an overthrow at first base allowed Morin to score from second base.
With runners on second and third, Nick Chapman reached on Portsmouth Christian’s second error of the inning and Carmichael crossed. Robert McGloughlin lined a single to left to plate Clougherty, and Oliver’s infield hit scored pinch runner Cameron Grzybowski.
“We have a good order and every run counts in a game like this,” said Jurkoic. “I take chances when I can (bunting and running). I’m typically aggressive.”
PC’s best chance to score came in the bottom of the third. Ryan McKenna belted a one-out ground rule double and advanced to third on an infield out. Mitch Colizzi then hit a sharp ground ball up the middle, but Newmarket second sacker Jeff Carmichael raced to his right, gobbled up the ball and threw out Colizzi by half a step at first.
The Eagles also put runners at second and third with two out in the fourth, but Oliver struck out the inning’s final batter. He finished with five strikeouts.
PC put its first two batters aboard in the seventh, but Oliver again struck out a batter and the Mules caught an Eagle in a run down between first and second. The game’s final hitter, McKenna, lofted a long fly ball to center, but the roomy Panther Field outfield gave Clougherty plenty of space to make the catch.
Oliver led all hitters in the game with three base knocks, while Morin added a pair of singles. Justin Leduc and Matt Salloway joined McKenna with PC hits.
The Eagles concluded their season with a 16-1 record.
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Mark Labore may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org@unionleader.com