NORTH READING — Two other reporters had left, and North Reading coach Frank Carey had gone deep into the postgame conversation. Deep as in bringing up 1970s era Hornet Marco Vitozzi and his amazing work at the youth levels in town.
“You know, I think we clinched the league today,” Carey said, out of the proverbial left field after yesterday’s 5-2 victory over defending Division 4 EMass. champ Georgetown.
For some baseball programs, league championships are the promised land. In North Reading, they remain afterthoughts, preliminaries to the main event in June.
But Carey’s indifference about the Cape Ann League Large title illustrates where his program resides.
Unbeaten (12-0) and hardly tested, North Reading has trailed in 1 of 87 innings this season. And in that one, the Hornets rallied to beat Masconomet Regional in the 10th.
The heart of this team is the durable and efficient 1-2 pitching punch of URI-bound Ryley “R.J.” Warnock and 6-foot-4 flamethrower Ryan McAuliffe.
The latter climbed the mound at Carey Field and shut down one of the power lineups in the CAL in an eight-hit, 5-2, complete-game.
McAuliffe pounded the zone with 62 strikes and only 16 balls, six of those wild ones in the seventh inning when adrenaline may have taken over.
For Coach Carey, another expectation was met.
“We’ve grown used to it, with Ryley and Ryan,” said Carey. “You saw Georgetown. That’s a pretty darn good team that tried to get on him early.”
But McAuliffe just kept pouring strikes and outs.
He moved to 5-0, striking out four (now 60 on season) and walking none (he has 7 on the year). Warnock, who will take his regular turn Thursday against Lynnfield, has similar numbers at 6-0 with 34 strikeouts and five walks.
Together, they’ve worked 71.2 of the 87 innings this year. And this is what opponents are going to see the rest of the way.