Portsmouth hits historic mark By Anthony Gulizia Globe Correspondent / May 23, 2011
Baseball is a game of streaks, filled with ups and downs that make or break teams. But the Portsmouth (N.H.) Clippers have been up for a long time — 76 games, to be exact.
Portsmouth broke the national record for consecutive wins with a 10-2 decision over Pembroke (N.H.) Thursday, surpassing Homer (Mich.) High’s mark established in 2005.
At the center of Portsmouth’s historic run, which began in 2008, is senior righthander Keegan Taylor, whose career stands at 21-0.
“He’s evolved tremendously over the last three years,’’ coach Tom Hopley said. “When he got here, we knew he had a reputation, and he’s continued to work year-round to get himself bigger and stronger. His breaking ball, when he stays on top of, it can be devastating.’’
In 113 2/3 innings, Taylor has 1.72 earned run average and 141 strikeouts. This season, Taylor is 6-0 with a 0.83 ERA and 64 strikeouts.
“Playing at the varsity level with this team you always have good players behind you, and obviously with this streak we’ve had some of the best defenses,’’ Taylor said. “This year, we’ve also averaged 10 runs a game, and pitching with that behind me has definitely been my key to success.’’
With the help of his pitching coach, former Red Sox hurler Bob Stanley, Taylor has been able to develop his arsenal of pitches, which include a fastball, changeup, curveball, and a split-finger fastball.
“One of my better pitches is my curveball,’’ Taylor said. “I’m able to go to that in pressure situations, that and my splitter. Over the years I’ve been able to work the strike zone and hit my corners.’’
Just before the school year started, Taylor committed to Northeastern University.
“It’s definitely a school I’m very happy to be going to,’’ he said. “It’s a good education, a competitive baseball team at the D-1 level, and the coaching staff, from what I’ve known, is awesome. It’s an opportunity to play high-level baseball and coming up to Northeastern is just another step.’’
At Northeastern, Taylor will live with Joey Maher, a pitcher from Bedford (N.H.) High.
The two squared off against each other May 9, with Portsmouth picking up its 72d straight win, 6-3.
“It was a big game, I really wanted to end the streak,’’ Maher said. “We were actually Portsmouth’s first win [to start the streak], so it would have been cool to end it. Keegan’s just a tough pitcher, he made our team look ugly. He can spot all of his pitches so he kept us off-balance.’’
Taylor has followed other great pitchers at Portsmouth, including Tim Welch, who didn’t give up a run during the 2008 season.
“Tim was an adventure,’’ Hopley said. “He’d have three balls on a batter then he’d strike him out; he was electric. When he settled in, he just pounded it. But Keegan’s more of an artist, and I say that with all due respect to how Keegan goes about it. And I say that because it’s just a great thing to watch.’’