CUMBERLAND — The way Cumberland is playing at this very moment is what skipper Paul Murphy envisioned prior to the season’s first pitch.
Take away the moon shot of a home run that Lincoln’s Nick Zammarelli led Monday’s game off with and Cumberland strung together a performance worthy of its play of late. The Clippers’ 11-1 “mercy rule” victory at the Lions’ expense was the third straight Division I-North victory for Murphy & Co. and the fourth overall.
The dominant showing enabled Cumberland to reach .500 in league play for the first time this season. That’s no small feat considering we’re talking about the same Clipper outfit that started out losing their first three Division I encounters. After explaining the significance of hitting the reset button to his players, Murphy talked about why things have been looking up as of late.
“The first three games were very difficult – home to Cranston West, at La Salle and at Hendricken,” noted Murphy, his squad now 4-4 against Division I foes. “We’ve been hitting the ball well and the pitching’s been okay, but we weren’t getting the defense. Now we’re starting to pick it up in that area.”
Cumberland starter Rob Reedy battled his way through 5 2/3 innings, such length proving vital on the first day of a three-game week. He allowed just two hits after surrendering a first-pitch leadoff home run to Zammarelli, both soft singles that didn’t come back to haunt the right-hander.
Lincoln looked to have Reedy on the ropes after Zammarelli’s whale of a blast, though nothing ever resulted despite Cumberland committing two errors and the pitcher hitting a batter. With the bases loaded and two down in the first, Reedy got Sam Brito to tap into a force out at third base.
“At that point, you have to be physically and mentally tough enough to say, ‘Okay, it’s only one run,’” said Murphy about Reedy’s ability to regroup following Zammarelli’s round tripper. “It could have been a big inning for them, but he didn’t allow that to happen.”
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A contact pitcher who’s not afraid to pitch inside or outside, Reedy finished with just one strikeout. He started to tire in the sixth inning, though teammate John Sikie was able to pick him up by ending the frame with a fielder’s choice groundout that extinguished a bases-loaded threat for Lincoln (4-4, Division I-North).
The Clippers swung potent bats all game long. A four-run second inning was highlighted by a run-scoring double by No. 8 hitter Josh Brodeur and a two-run double by fellow sophomore Tyler Calabro.
Joe Fine got into the swing of things with a two-run home run that extended Cumberland’s lead to 7-1 in the fifth inning. An inning later, the Clipper junior delivered a two-run double that enabled the home team to lower the curtain on the contest. The sixth also saw Dylan Boisclair double over the centerfielder’s head that resulted in two more runs.
Fine’s afternoon consisted of three extra-base hits and three RBI while Boisclair collected two doubles and two RBI.
“We’ve been hitting the ball pretty well the last couple of games,” said Murphy. “We’ve got some guys out with injuries, but they’ll be coming back shortly.”
Cumberland will hit the road for the rest of the week with games at Cranston East (Wednesday) and Cranston West (Friday). Lincoln will welcome Cranston West on Wednesday before heading to Bishop Hendricken on Friday.