HARWICH — Andrew Clifford helped the Monomoy baseball team have one last celebration.
Although the 28th-seeded Sharks suffered a season-ending 9-6 loss to fifth-seeded Manchester Essex in Monday’s Division 4 Round of 32 matchup, Clifford helped the team earn a 7-0 victory over No. 37 Lynn Vocational-Tech in Sunday’s preliminary-round game at Whitehouse Field.
While the offense was rolling early, the real story of the night was the pitching performance from Clifford, a junior lefty from Barnstable.
The southpaw tossed a complete game shutout that included a remarkable 17 strikeouts while allowing just one hit.
“Andrew had all his pitches working today, his fastball, curveball, changeup did a great job getting ahead of the hitters, which let him use all his pitches,” Monomoy coach Steve Porter said. “And then Casey [Huse] behind the plate did a great job of mixing the calls to keep the hitters off balance.”
Clifford started the contest by striking out the side, something he did multiple times during the game. The Monomoy bats followed that up with three runs in the bottom half of the inning, kicked off by an RBI double from sophomore shortstop Sean Davock that scored freshman center fielder Finn Hyora, who began the game with a walk.
While Monomoy recorded six baserunners in the inning, Lynn was able to partially limit the damage by throwing out Davock when he tried to stretch his double into a triple. The visitors also caught freshman catcher Casey Huse attempting to steal third after he recorded a two-RBI single with two outs.
For Clifford, the early run support helped him sail on the mound.
“As soon as I get one run, I'm locked in,” Clifford said. “I’m determined not to ever give up a lead. So, once I get one run, I'm gonna throw a shutout, that's just how my mentality works. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out, but you can't win a game with just one run so I know my team's gonna go out get more and give me the lead I need to win.”
And locked in he was. Huse agreed with Porter about Clifford’s ability to throw his full arsenal of pitches for strikes.
“All his pitches were right fastball, breaking ball, everything was working perfect,” Huse said.
In the second inning, Monomoy tacked on two runs and chased the starting pitcher, sophomore Will McCafferty, out of the game. The Tigers were haunted by fielding difficulties as they were battling the sun all night.
On the other side of the field, Lynn simply could not get anything going, with a total of five baserunners all scattered among five different innings. Porter says the lead was a major factor to Clifford's pitching success.
“Anytime you can get a big lead like that, it helps the pitchers throw confidently more strikes, they work quicker, and it keeps the fielders on their toes,” Porter said. “So anytime you get kind of that little cushion, I think it just breeds a lot of confidence in the players.”
The Sharks were able to score two more runs in the game, one on a passed ball and one on an overthrow to third to further solidify the victory.
Porter credited Clifford for helping the team advance to the next round.
“Andrew takes the ball and he's a bulldog out there,” the coach said. “He never wants to be taken out. He does a great job of letting the rest of the pitching staff rest.”
Contact Brendan Samson at firstname.lastname@example.org