Greenfield teams set to open Western Mass. Summer Baseball League playoffs

  • Greenfield’s Matt Gardner tries to make the tag on an Agawam runner during action earlier this season at Vets Field. The Greenfield Senior Division team is seeded second in the upcoming Western Mass. Summer Baseball League playoffs. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/4/2020 3:45:24 PM

An abbreviated summer campaign now shifts toward the postseason for Greenfield’s entrants in the Western Mass. Summer Baseball League.

While American Legion baseball didn’t happen in an official capacity this summer, Greenfield’s normal Post 81 Senior and Junior Division teams still competed under a different league banner. Action in both divisions wrapped up over the weekend, and playoffs begin Wednesday.

The Greenfield Senior Division team went 7-2 and earned the No. 2 seed in the 10-team double elimination bracket. Head coach Kyle Phelps’ club gets the second season started on Thursday night with a home game under the lights at Vets Field (7 p.m.) against the winner of the play-in game between Belchertown and Ludlow.

Greenfield allowed the fewest runs in the league, relying on the arms of pitchers like Owen Phelps and Matt Gardner, who have each tossed two complete games.

“Our pitching was dominant all year,” explained Kyle Phelps of his club. “I think our ERA was like 1.40. We have five aces we feel comfortable running out there and getting a win so we feel good about our chances.”

The postseason is slated to run through Aug. 14. Greenfield, which won the Senior Division title a year ago and advanced to the state tournament, would play the winner of No. 3 East Longmeadow and No. 6 Wilbraham Black, in a game on Saturday night if it advances. There is no state tourney this year.

“With our pitching, I feel we can beat anybody,” Phelps said. “It’s taken a little while for the bats to get going but we’re just starting to get the timing and seeing the ball better.”

Wilbraham Green is the No. 1 seed in the Senior Division bracket.

“There’s a lot of parity in the league,” explained Phelps. “Every team is good. You look at a team like Belchertown, they ended up 3-6 but they lost four one-run games. For us, the intensity went up late in the season and the guys have really focused a lot more. With this playoff coming up, they’re definitely pumped up for it. They want it to win.”

In the Junior Division, Greenfield is the No. 7 seed and opens its postseason run Wednesday on the road at No. 2 Wilbraham (5:45 p.m., Spec Pond). The winner would face the winner of another first-round matchup between No. 3 Belchertown Black and No. 6 Belchertown Orange, and the losers of both games will also meet in an elimination tilt. Those games would be Friday night.

Greenfield went 3-4 during the regular season, but allowed the second-fewest runs in the league (36). With ace David Carey leading the charge, manager Tom Bresciano thinks his team can make some noise in the postseason.

“I’ve been telling the kids all year long, we’re as talented as any team in this league,” Bresciano said. “We just have to put it together. If we can eliminate the mental errors, I think we have the ability to go on a good run.”

Easthampton is the No. 1 seed in the Junior Division bracket.

Both coaches said their teams have had to make adjustments due to COVID-19 guidelines, though things are getting easier with repetition.

“Every community we go to is different though,” Phelps offered. “In Greenfield, I feel we’ve done a great job following the guidelines. Everyone is aware now of what needs to be done on a nightly basis. I give the players credit for doing things differently and adapting because we never thought we’d get to this point.”

Bresciano said town-by-town differences have been noticeable. He said two teams in the Junior Division require players to wear masks on the field during games, though Greenfield didn’t play on the road in either community during the regular season.

“It’s been a learning process from the beginning for everybody, but now it’s part of the routine,” Bresciano said.

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