Legion Post 24 hopes to build on historic ’13 season

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The Canton American Legion Post 24 baseball team opened the 2014 summer season with high hopes after an exciting end to last season. The 2013 team advanced to the south sectional playoffs — the furthest the squad has gone in team history, after finishing 13-11 in the regular season and upsetting Foxboro 3-0 and Easton 16-6 in the opening round of the playoffs.

Returning from last year’s team are Canton residents Sam Larson, Drew Blake, Jimmy Fitzgerald, Wyatt Golledge, Kevin O’Brien, Kevin Powers, Steve Mullaney, and Pat Vartanian, along with Matt Shaffer and Frank Sullivan of Sharon. New additions from the CHS baseball team are Joe and Dom Bires, Griffin Jerrier, and Joe Peccia, and also Michael Hudner of Canton.

New additions from Sharon are Michael Birschbach, Jacob Berish, and Jacob Milley.

The team opened up the season Sunday with a 4-1 win in Weymouth behind a dominating pitching performance from Powers and three RBIs and a booming double from Birschbach, one of the Hockomock League’s best hitters.

Powers pitched a complete game and was in total command, giving up no earned runs and limiting Weymouth to five hits while striking out three batters. He attacked the plate with an improved fastball from a year ago and kept batters off balance with his other pitches.

As it was last season, Canton was aggressive on the bases, taking advantage of Weymouth errors. Birshbach’s double knocked in two runners, and a single by Pecchia brought in a third run in the third inning. Later in the game, Jerrier nearly added to the lead with a long hit, but the play was ruled a ground-rule double because the ball had gone through a fence and the runner was called back to third.

Canton’s defense shined behind Shaffer in centerfield, Golledge at first, Birschbach at third, Peccia at short, and Milley at second. Joe Bires made a good play at first to end the game as he scooped up a low throw.

Head coach Greg Lyons said that even with the losses of last year’s veteran leaders Nate Pedersen and Jake Fishman of Sharon, the team returns a strong pitching staff, lineup, and defense.

The current challenge is player availability because of summer vacations, AAU baseball, and football practices. Also, last year’s leading hitter and top slugger, Drew Blake, comes into the season with back problems. “If it wasn’t for those reasons, I would say we have the strongest team we have had in my three years as coach and probably the strongest since I played in 2004-2005,” said Lyons.

District 6 American Legion baseball is a strong bracket with Braintree, Milton, Stoughton, Parkway, Cohasset, Holbrook, Weymouth, and Morrissette all in the division.

Canton’s schedule this week includes games at Stoughton June 10, at Parkway (Catholic Memorial) June 11, home against Cohasset June 12 at 5:45 p.m., at Braintree June 13 at 7:30 p.m., and home against Milton June 15 at 5:45 p.m.

Besides Lyons, the team is managed by Al Jackson, Walter Mann, and Mike Jerrier.

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avatar Posted by on Jun 12 2014. Filed under Beyond CHS, Sports.
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