Post 81 bows out after state-tourney defeats

  • Greenfield Post 81’s Bryan Baumann runs to first against Pittsfield Post 68 earlier this season. Post 81’s summer run came to an end Sunday with a loss to Shrewsbury in the American Legion state tournament. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 7/28/2019 10:51:38 PM

MILFORD — It wasn’t the ending Greenfield Post 81 was hoping for.

After winning the District 3 tournament earlier in the week in dramatic fashion, Post 81 moved on to the Massachusetts Senior Legion State Tournament. But the club was unable to get the bats going in either game over the weekend, falling to Sandwich Post 188, 1-0, on Saturday and losing to Shrewsbury Post 397, 4-0, Sunday, eliminating them from the double-elimination tournament at Fino Field.

Greenfield was never able to get a rhythm going against Shrewsbury ace Nick McDonald in an elimination game on Sunday. McDonald limited Post 81 to just two hits in six innings of work, striking out nine and walking just two batters in the 4-0 win that ended Greenfield’s summer.

“Sad to see it end but we’re real proud of these guys,” Greenfield manager Kyle Phelps said. “One thing they can’t do is take away the western Mass championship. I told these guys, don’t hang your heads. We played two quality teams and we played right with them to the end. One or two hits here and there and we still might be playing.”

All season long, Post 81 was able to come up with a clutch hit right when it was needed most. The team put together countless comebacks, and continually found ways to win close games. That wasn’t the case in Milford, however.

Against Post 397 on Sunday, Greenfield mustered just two baserunners through three innings, one when Bryan Baumann walked as the game’s leadoff batter and the other in the third inning when Max Charest reached on an error.

Post 81 was unable to do anything with the runners on base, as McDonald recorded strikeouts for six of the nine outs through three innings.

“He is one of the best pitchers we’ve seen all season,” Kyle Phelps said.

While McDonald was on his game for Shrewsbury, Owen Phelps began the outing strong as well on the mound for Greenfield, allowing one hit in the first two innings.

In the third, Post 397’s bats came alive, beginning with a Ryan Conant single. Conant stole second, and leadoff batter Sean Bunton brought him home to make it 1-0 with a knock to center. Bunton made it to second base after the throw back from the outfield.

Two batters later, John West sent a line drive to the outfield, bringing Bunton in and giving Shrewsbury an early 2-0 lead heading into the fourth inning.

Post 81 showed life in the fourth. Ben Arnold drew a walk and Kalen Evans got his team’s first hit of the game, putting runners on first and second with two outs. But McDonald was able to get Charest to ground out to end the inning without any damage done.

After the error in the second inning, Post 397 was perfect in the field, making tough plays look routine throughout the ballgame.

“We’ve had the big innings all year but the bats got quiet here in this tournament,” Kyle Phelps said. “Obviously we were facing better pitching than we’ve faced all season. And the defenses, you can see it with the Shrewsbury team, they don’t make many mistakes.”

Phelps allowed two hits in the fourth, one a single from Christian Siciliano and a well-placed bunt from Chris Wright. But Phelps got Conant to fly out to end the inning.

After Greenfield went down 1-2-3 in the top of the fifth, Joel Peabody came on in relief, getting three straight outs to keep it 2-0 heading into the sixth inning.

Garrett DeForest opened the top of the sixth with a strikeout, but Colin Cloutier followed with a single, giving Post 81 life.

McDonald remained unfazed on the mound, though, getting Arnold to ground into a fielder’s choice. Connor Waitkus followed with a ground out to end the frame.

“We couldn’t stack them together,” Kyle helps said. “We would get one or two (runners) an inning and that’s what it was with these two games, we’d get runners on but we couldn’t get the big hit to get them in.”

Shrewsbury added two insurance runs in the sixth, as Matt Livingston singled and Christian Siciliano brought him in to score with a deep shot into left-center for a double. Wright then hit a single to bring Siciliano in to score and give Post 397 a four-run cushion heading into the final inning.

Alex Zidonis came in to pitch the final inning for Shrewsbury, getting Evans to ground out before walking Charest. Zidonis didn’t allow Post 81 to make it interesting, striking out Peabody and Corbin Blight to end the game and Greenfield’s season.

In the tournament-opener on Saturday against Sandwich, Post 81 was able to put runners on base, but was also unable to get a big hit to bring in a run en route to the 1-0 defeat.

Greenfield left nine runners on base, while Sandwich scored the game’s only run in the second inning after a blooper to the outfield put a runner on and a soft grounder was able to bring a run home.

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