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Host Post 81 loses opener, 4-0

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Post 81 got a strong effort from pitcher Mike Duclos Sunday, but the righthander could have filed for non-support as the offense abandoned him in a 4-0 Game 1 loss to Palmer Post 130 that dropped Post 81 into the losers’ bracket, a loss away from elimination during American Legion Baseball Intrastate Department Sectional Tournament action at Veterans Memorial Field.

Greenfield is the top seed in the four-team A Division of the Central-West Bracket. Next up for Post 81 in the double-elimination tournament is Ludlow tonight in Greenfield at 5. Leominster, a 3-2 winner over Ludlow Sunday, will take on Palmer in the winner’s-bracket game. Should Greenfield win tonight, it would face the loser of the Leominster/Palmer game Tuesday evening in Greenfield for the right to go to the championship game, where it would have to beat the winner of tonight’s Leominster/Palmer game twice. Post 81 coach Ryan Tatreau said that given the mound performance by Duclos Sunday, he considers the opener as a missed opportunity.

“With the effort Mike gave us on the mound, and with this opportunity to play at home, I would say this is a major squandered opportunity in every sense of the word,” he explained. “The bottom of the order didn’t come through today. Really, we didn’t score any runs, so I guess you could say the entire order didn’t come through.”

Post 81 managed just five hits off Palmer starter Tim Siddle, who struck out seven and walked three in the complete-game victory. Tom Malooly, Greenfield’s cleanup hitter, went 3-for-3, but the rest of the Greenfield hitters could manage just two hits. Niko Ames and Tyler Charboneau each contributed a single, but that was it for Post 81. Greenfield’s No. 6 through 9 hitters were a combined 0-for-10, including five strikeouts. The lineup was also without Duclos, who was DH’d for to keep him fresh. It’s a move Tatreau said he’s done before, but did make the lineup less potent.

“Mike being DH’d for is something we’ve done before, something we did just a few days ago against Agawam,” the coach said. “Just knowing what our pitching situation is, it’s my job to make sure that the juice is in his leg. But that being said, I attribute our loss to a lack of timely hitting on offense.”

Greenfield had opportunities to score in each of the first three innings but came away empty. In the first inning, Tanner Jillson walked with one out and went to second base when Malooly singled with two outs. Siddle came back and got Charboneau to pop out to short to end the inning. In the second, Mark Buck singled with one out and stole second base but Siddle struck out Kevin Luippold and Marcel Ortiz to end the inning. Greenfield’s best chance to score came in the third when Jillson reached on a one-out error, before Malooly and Charboneau each hit two-out singles to load the bases. Liam Datres de la Blotier ended the threat with a fly out to right. Siddle allowed just two hits the rest of the way to finish off the five-hit, shutout.

“Siddle did a nice job,” Tatreau said. “He was able to keep us off his fastball just enough with that hook he throws. He throws hard and he must have done something right because we didn’t score off him.”

Duclos shut out Palmer for the first four innings but Post 130 finally got on the board in the fifth. Drew Koczur got things going with a one-out walk and moved to second on a Ryan Swarts single. Duclos got the second out by inducing Adam Kozlik to fly out to left, but Greg Pobieglo worked a walk to load the bases. Siddle helped himself out by hitting a blooper down the line in shallow right field that fell no man’s land for a two-run double.

Palmer added two more insurance runs in the seventh, when Koczur singled and was followed by Swarts, who dropped a perfect bunt down the third-base line. On the play, Malooly threw an ill-timed throw to first to try and get Swarts, but the ball got past Luippold at first and allowed both runners to move into scoring position. Koczur came around to score on a wild pitch, and Swarts added the final run on a sacrifice fly to right by Pobieglo.

Duclos struck out five and allowed eight hits and three walks in the loss. Tatreau said the team needs to refocus and take it one game at a time now.

“Today just wasn’t a good day for us,” he concluded. “We haven’t necessarily had a lot of those lately. Going forward, we just have to ignore the fact that we lost today. It’s all about tomorrow. We can’t focus on today with tomorrow being the day that is ultimately the biggest game of our season.”

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