Greenfield routs Ludlow to advance
Jane K. Ames photo
Greenfield’s Niko Ames fires to first to complete a double play in the third inning of Greenfield’s 16-4 win over Ludlow Sunday night at Vets Field. The Ludlow runner is Logan Schinabeck, while Greenfield’s Brody Markol, left, backs up.
GREENFIELD — The Greenfield Post 81 offense continued its postseason power surge and the team advanced to the Western Mass. Mass American Legion Baseball championship series with a 16-4 mercy rule-shortened victory over Ludlow Post 52 Sunday night at Veterans Memorial Field.
Greenfield (17-4) advances through the double-elimination third-round bracket going a perfect 3-0 and advanced to the best-of-three championship series beginning on Tuesday. Greenfield will travel to the winner of today’s finale of the other third-round bracket between second-seeded Pittsfield and third-seeded Westfield, which is being played at Bullens Field in Westfield tonight at 7. Because Greenfield is the fourth seed in the tournament, it will travel to the winner of that series on Tuesday for Game 1 of the finals before coming home to host Game 2 on Wednesday night at 7:15 at Vets. The if-necessary game is tentatively scheduled for Thursday on the road.
Greenfield finished with nine hits on Sunday and also took advantage of nine walks and a pair of hit batters on the night. Of the nine walks issued by Ludlow pitching, eight of those runners came in to score. Fittingly, the game ended with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning when Brody Markol was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in the 16th run, giving Greenfield the 12-run lead needed to invoke the mercy rule. That capped off a six-run, sixth-inning, which was the second-highest inning output on the night, trailing the fourth inning when Greenfield sent 12 batters to the plate and scored eight times.
“I’ve got to give these players all the credit, they show up every day, a couple hours before the game, and put in the work,” Greenfield coach Tim Capuano said. “I don’t have to get on them to do anything. They’re consistent. They get here and I like to throw them some BP (batting practice) and they like to hit it.”
Greenfield got hits from seven of the 10 players that got to the plate and nine of the 10 (including pinch-hitter Marcel Ortiz who was hit by a pitch in the sixth) scored at least once. The middle of the Greenfield lineup had a big day, especially No. 5 hitter Luke Bakker and No. 6 hitter Sam Downes. Bakker gave Greenfield a 2-0 lead in the first inning with his two-out RBI single to center, and then drove in his third run of the game in the fourth when he worked a bases-loaded walk on a full count. Bakker also doubled and walked again, reaching base in all four of his plate appearances, and also scoring three times. Downes launched a two-out bases-loaded double to deep right field to score three runs in the fourth inning, and added an RBI single in the seventh, finishing with four RBIs.
Sunday marked the third straight game that Greenfield scored at least four runs in one inning, and it marked the second straight game that Greenfield put up eight runs in one inning, after it scored eight times in the second inning against Amherst on Friday night.
“It seems to be that when we can get our bats together and put together a big inning, it really gets the other team down,” Downes said. “We seem to be able to take advantage of our opportunities. We like to put it on as hard as we can and stack up the runs. I think we mercy-ruled three or four of the last teams we played. It’s something that we didn’t really do early in the season, but we didn’t really have a lot of time to practice. But lately we’ve gotten a lot of swings in and we’ve gotten a lot of big innings, and we’ve scored a lot of runs with two outs.”
Greenfield managed to inflict much of the damage on Sunday with two outs. Of the 16 runs scored, 11 crossed the plate with two outs in the inning.
“Recently, we’ve taken advantage of having seen pitchers multiple times,” Downes explained. “We just faced Ludlow last week and I learned tonight from my first two at bats, I grounded out twice weakly to third on sliders. I talked it over with coach Cap and he reminded me to just let the ball travel. This season, my best hits have gone to the right side, I’ve really been able to drive it, so the best advice he gave me was to let the ball travel in deep and let my hands do the work.”
Jourdan York-Welcome finished with two hits and one RBI in the win, and Jake Elwell added a hit and two RBIs. Brody Markol doubled in a run, and Liam Datres de la Blotier also added a hit and an RBI.
The offense once again overshadowed a solid pitching performance by a Post 81 starter. Greenfield pitcher Parker Hickey struck out one in six innings and allowed just five hits and one walk. The four runs scored by Ludlow came in the fifth inning and were all unearned, the result of one hit and three errors by Greenfield.
Dylan Presnal suffered the loss, striking out three and walking three in 32/ 3 innings.