Greenfield drills Amherst, 14-3
GREENFIELD — Greenfield Post 81 scored eight times in the second inning and advanced to the championship game of the third-round, double-elimination bracket of the American Legion Baseball tournament with a 14-3 victory over Amherst Post 148 Friday night at Veterans Memorial Field.
Greenfield will host the winner of the loser’s bracket game between Amherst and Ludlow — which defeated Aldenville, 4-1, in the loser’s bracket on Friday — either tonight or Sunday at Vets Field. The Amherst-Ludlow winner will have to defeat Greenfield twice to advance, while Greenfield will have to win once. The winner will move to the best-of-three championship series against the winner of the other bracket.
The second inning had an early moment of controversy after Brody Markol doubled to lead off in a scoreless game and went to third when Luke Bakker reached on an error. Bakker stole second base but on the play Amherst catcher Zach Kelley fired a strike to third and caught Markol leaning. The tag appeared to get Markol but he was initially called safe on the play. Amherst coach Mike Bohl came out and appealed the play and Markol was then called out, much to the chagrin of the Post 81 bench and fans.
While it cost Post 81 an out, the players responded by unloading on Amherst starter Brett Morrison. Andrew Doty launched an RBI double to left-center and Kevin Luippold followed that up with an RBI single. Jourdan York-Welcome then bunted for a single, and Jake Elwell drove in the third run of the inning with with a line-drive single to left. A walk to Mark Buck loaded the bases and Niko Ames sent a fly ball to right field that would have scored one run but the ball was dropped and allowed two runs to score on the play. Liam Datres de la Blotier then belted a double to center to score two more runs to make it 7-0. One more error in the inning allowed the eighth-run to score and Greenfield was in the driver’s seat.
“I think that play at third woke us up and made us realize that we had to come out and earn this win,” first-year Greenfield coach Tim Capuano said. “From there, the guys made it easy for me to coach because they were hitting the ball everywhere.”
Amherst got two runs back in the third but Greenfield kept the pressure on with one run in the third, tthree in the fourth and two more in the fifth to thwart any thoughts of an Amherst comeback. Buck hit an RBI triple in the third inning to plate Elwell, who had reached on a two-out single, while Doty added two more RBIs in the fourth with his second hit of the night.
That was plenty of support for Greenfield starter Tyler Charboneau, who struck out four and walked one in six innings to earn the win. John Deskavich came on and pitched the seventh inning to finish things off. Deskavich, a former Deerfield Academy player who now attends Syracuse University and has not played baseball since last spring, said that getting a chance to be a part of this team and try to contribute when he is called upon has been a thrill this season.
“I was pretty excited to pitch tonight,” he said. “When early March came around, this was the first time I was not getting ready for baseball, but my dad called me and said he had seen the tryouts for the Legion team, so I called (Greenfield chairman) Bill Phelps and told him I wanted a chance to tryout for my final season with the team. I’m enjoying being on the team and playing when I can, and even when I’m on the bench I’m still supporting the guys and having fun with them.”
Another contributor for Greenfield was starting first baseman Kevin Luippold, who was called up from the Junior Legion team to start at first base, which is not his natural position. He responded by making a crucial out in the top of the second inning with an acrobatic play in foul territory off first base with a runner on, and also had the RBI single and reached base three times.
“I wasn’t expecting to get a text from Cap last night telling me I was going to be called up and start at first base — I was just going to go to my Junior Legion game — but it was a really cool feeling,” Luippold said.
It was a tough night for Amherst pitching as Morrison and reliever Ethan Young each struggled. Morrison looked unhittable in a 1-2-3 first inning but was hit hard in the second and was lifted with one out. Young came on and pitched well until the fourth inning when he struggled to throw strikes and walked four in the frame, allowing three runs. Kelley pitched the final three innings, striking out three and walking two, but by that time Post 148 had all but checked out of the game. Tim Pruner had an RBI single in the loss, while Jamie Carey doubled and drove in a run on a sacrifice fly.