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Thursday, May 26, 2011
Middleborough baseball clinches Patriot Fisher

By Tom Layman




SCITUATE, Mass. -- Scituate's Casey Burns turned in his best pitching performance of the season, according to his head coach Kevin Greer. It’s just too bad he had to deal with Middleborough’s Nick Radcliffe.

Radcliffe proved to be a thorn in the side of Burns and Scituate (15-5) as he went 3-for-4 with three extra base hits, including a game separating two-run homer in the top of the fifth to help the Sachems (17-3) take home a 4-1 win and the Patriot League Fisher Division title.

“It’s a big win,” Radcliffe said. “We lost to them last time out so we had to have it.”

Radcliffe struck out looking in the first inning as Burns made him look bad with a 3-2 breaking ball for a called strike three. But in the final three at-bats, Radcliffe made sure he wasn’t fooled again.

In the top of the fourth, Radcliffe reached out and poked a double over the right fielder’s head to grab his first hit of the game. In the next inning, Radcliffe hit the ball in the same location but got all of it and cleared the wall for a big two-run shot that gave the Sachems a commanding 4-0 lead.

“I got jammed on the first one, but the wind helped me out a lot,” Radcliffe said. “The second one was just right in the sweet spot.

“He was coming at me with some offspeed stuff,” he continued. “Late in the count I love the fastball, but he back-doored me with the curve and I struck out. I just jumped on it on the other ones.”

The muscle at the plate by Radcliffe proved to be plenty for Sachems’ ace Sean Newcomb. The towering lefty allowed two hits and struck out 13 in a complete-game effort. The only run he allowed was on a solo shot in the bottom of the seventh, and he worked around four walks to pitch the Sachems to the league title.

“He struggled in the first couple of innings because he was up (with his fastball),” Sachems’ head coach Bill Lawrence said. “As the game went on he warmed up basically. His spots were on.”

Newcomb punched out two batters in all of his innings except for the seventh, and he only allowed four men to reach second base. He seemed to get a little more life on his fastball after the helping homer from his teammate Radcliffe, as he retired six straight hitters, four by the strikeout, after the Sachems grabbed the four-run advantage.

“I got the adrenaline going, because I realized how close we were," Radcliffe said. "I just went out there and got it done.”

Burns pitched well in the loss as he struck out six and was charged with three earned runs in 6.2 innings. He had to leave the game in the top of the seventh after taking a liner off the back.

“That was his best game of the year,” said Greer. “He pitched well. He left one up and this is a park built for (Radcliffe).”