ORLEANS – The Nauset baseball team had been searching for a breakthrough. It finally came Saturday against an opponent unfamiliar to the Warriors players, but not their coach.
After surrendering a 3-0 lead to visiting Burlington in the top half of the third inning, Nauset’s bats exploded for three runs in the third and 11 more in the fourth to power the team to a 14-3 mercy-rule victory in five innings at Eldredge Park.
The game marked the first meeting between the two programs; Nauset’s second-year coach Kevin Curtin was a 1983 graduate of Burlington who starred for the baseball team. Curtin later returned to coach alongside his dad Jim, a legendary figure in Burlington who won 612 games during his 52-year career as the program’s coach.
As special as the game was for Curtin and his family, the coach was really happiest to see his club snap a two-game losing skid and get back in the win column.
“I’ll be honest, it was sentimental in the sense that it was Burlington, but we had a tough week so we were really just excited to turn it around,” said Curtin, who wears number 52 to honor his late father’s career.
After opening its season with a 10-0 victory over Brockton on April 7, Nauset fizzled in a 9-5 loss to Dennis-Yarmouth on April 13 and then dropped a 2-0 decision at Martha’s Vineyard on Friday.
“[Against Dennis-Yarmouth] we had a lead and then based on some errors from inexperience, we changed the lineup a little bit,” Curtin said. “Against Martha’s Vineyard, we played great defense but lost 2-0. Today was really our opportunity to have an identity. We had good defense, really good pitching and the bats came alive.”
Senior Max Dio settled in to secure the complete-game victory after finding himself in a jam in the top of the first. After hitting the first Red Devils (3-2) batter with a pitch, walking the second batter and then hitting the third to load the bases with no outs, Dio managed to get out of the inning relatively unscathed, allowing just one run.
“I made a lot of adjustments mid-inning,” said Dio, a righthander from Wellfleet. “I went out there and didn’t quite have my groove going, but I was able to make some adjustments and stay around the plate.”
Dio ultimately allowed three hits, walked five and struck out four en route to the win.
“Towards the end, I definitely felt a lot better, so I can only go up from there,” he said.
The righty said he’s enjoyed working with Bridgewater State commit Noah Clarke, the team’s leadoff hitter who has made the switch from playing left field last year to catcher this spring.
“I’ve been good friends with Noah for basically my whole life,” Dio said. “I’ve played with him forever, so it’s good to have that preexisting connection.”
Clarke said he’s glad to be back behind the plate after catching for the first time since before high school. The senior also acknowledged that while the Warriors do have a young team this year, the group continues to grow closer with each game that passes.
“I think the team chemistry is really good — everything is coming together,” said Clarke, a Harwich resident. “We just have a lot of new guys.”
All of the Nauset players were encouraged with the way the offense scored runs in bunches. Leading the way was Pete Murphy, a junior left fielder from Brewster who notched a pair of RBI singles.
“It felt good, especially since I haven’t been hitting great to start the year,” Murphy said. “It felt good to get some hits today. I was definitely feeling more confident too after getting my first hit. I felt like I could piece the ball and that’s what happened.”
Curtin noted Murphy put in some extra work before the game during batting practice.
“He was one of the first ones here this morning to get some extra BP,” the coach said. “He worked hard, so I’m really happy for him.”
Now the Warriors will try to string together a few more wins. The team was due to host Hopkinton at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and Plymouth South at 11 a.m. Thursday before traveling to Medfield Saturday for a noon first pitch.
“We just have to keep the energy high and stay confident,” Clarke said.
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org.