Newport Baseball Relies on Small Ball

Newport — “Command” may perhaps be more recognizable as a military term, but for a baseball coach, he’s referring to his pitcher’s accuracy in pounding the strike zone. Newport pitcher Andrew Houde was the commander-in-chief on Thursday as the junior right-hander threw 80 pitches, 63 for strikes, as the Tigers defeated Monadnock, 1-0.

In a game played in a tidy 90 minutes, Monadnock sophomore River Fish was in command as well, but just was not quite good enough as Newport got to him for run in the fifth.

The only run of the game came in the bottom of the fifth. Dawson Campbell walked to start the frame. Pinch-runner Dylan McNamara reached second on a wild pitch and was thrown out at the plate when he tried to score when Spencer Coronis’ ground ball went off the second baseman’s glove and into center field. Kyle Kerating scooped the ball up on the run and threw out McNamara at the plate.

Coronis took second on the play, which was crucial, as two batters later Matt Bocko singled to center and Coronis scored.

Both Houde and Fish can bring the ball to the plate with authority, but the one pitch that might have been a game-changer was a lazy curve from Houde in the top of the fifth.

With the game scoreless, the Huskies had two runners on and Spencer Heise at the plate. Heise had already doubled and lined out to right.

With the count 1-2, Heise fouled off two fastballs. Houde’s next pitch was a curve that froze Heise as he took a called third strike.

Houde ended up with a three-hitter, striking out nine, including the side in the seventh. He walked one and hit one.

“What you saw today from Andrew was something that was missing earlier in the strike zone,” said his coach, Tim Spanos. “His command was awesome.”

Houde agreed, saying he was pretty much able to “put it where I wanted to.” In regards to that curve that got Heise in the fifth, Houde said that the call for that pitch came from his catcher Jeff Quimby.

“I agree that was the most important pitch of the game,” said Spanos, who watched his team win for the fourth straight time and improve to 7-4.

“We’re really starting to put it together,” Houde said.

Spanos thinks the turnaround came when the Tigers played well in a 2-0 loss to Sunapee on May 5, and the team has only lost once since, 2-1, at Stevens.

Monadnock has lost three of its last four after opening the season with five straight wins.

Fish, who also allowed only three hits, walked four and struck out five.

Newport goes to Hinsdale on Monday.