Legion Post 24 earns 1st playoff spot in four yearsBy Mike Berger
For the first time since 2007, the Canton Post 24 American Legion baseball team qualified for the playoffs, coming from behind with some important wins last week. Post 24 finished in fourth place in the District 6 West Division with a 9-9 record and now face 14-3 Braintree, who is second in the East Division, in a best-of-three series at Braintree High this week.
The series began Tuesday, July 12, and continued on Wednesday with game two. If necessary, the teams will play the third and final game Thursday (tonight) at Braintree, starting at 7 p.m.
Having lost to league-leading Norwood 12-1 earlier last week, Canton faced an uphill climb to make it back to the playoffs, but to the team’s credit, it rebounded nicely with four consecutive wins to close out the season: 11-2 over Franklin, 3-2 over Norfolk, 9-1 over Medfield, and a win by default when Needham forfeited its game to Canton on Saturday.
“The team finished the regular season strong,” said head coach Colin Clapton. “We got some strong pitching from Dave Roberto and Matt Bernstein. In the last few weeks, the team really came together and played some very good baseball.”
Roberto was dominant in both the Franklin and Medfield games. Against Franklin, he struck out five and walked just two batters while scattering a few hits. The Canton bats came alive with three runs in the first inning and two runs each in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Catcher Matt Nichols led the offense with three hits, including a double. Andrew Vinciguerra and Chris Barletta each had two hits in the 11-hit attack.
The following night, Canton came back from a 2-0 deficit to edge Norfolk 3-2. Vinciguerra knocked in a run with a groundout RBI, and then Nichols drove in Brennan Sullivan, who had doubled, to tie the score at 2-2.
The winning run came in the fifth when Vinciguerra reached on an error, advanced to third on a Drew Blake single, and came home on a Matt Potts single. Meanwhile, Bernstein gave up two runs in the third inning, but settled down and pitched well the rest of the way, recording 12 straight outs, including four strikeouts. Good defense was turned in by Blake at shortstop and Vinciguerra and Barletta in the outfield.
With a rain postponement on Friday night, Canton turned to Roberto to pitch on a few days’ rest, and he responded with another fine pitching performance over six innings. Casey Sullivan came on in the seventh to close out the game. Homeruns by Dan Friedman and Blake powered the attack.
Clapton said that Bernstein and Roberto were scheduled to pitch the first two games of the Braintree series, with Friedman ready to pitch the deciding third game if necessary.
Short URL: http://www.thecantoncitizen.com/?p=6592