Wild win propels Legion team into playoff picture

Pat Vartanian, shown here during the CHS baseball season, had a big week at the plate and on the mound for the Canton American Legion team. (Mike Barucci photo)

Pat Vartanian, shown here during the CHS baseball season, had a big week at the plate and on the mound for the Canton American Legion team. (Mike Barucci photo)

The Canton American Legion Post 24 baseball team rebounded last week with a 4-2 record and remerged as a playoff contender.

However, Canton (6-8) will still have to overtake two other teams, Holbrook (9-5) and Stoughton (8-7), in order to have a chance at one of the four playoff spots in the division. There were 10 games left on the regular season schedule as of June 29, including a key road game this week against Stoughton and a pair of home games against first-place Quincy.

On Sunday night, Canton capped off a busy yet productive week of baseball with a wild, come-from-behind win over Holbrook 14-13. The poor conditions at Holbrook’s Sumner Field resulted in strange hops for infielders and many misplayed balls in the outfield. The result was several errors for both teams and multiple inside-the-park homeruns.

Heroes were aplenty for Canton, but the unlikely pitching star was Pat Vartanian, who is normally the team’s starting catcher but was playing in the outfield Sunday night. Head coach Greg Lyons called upon Vartanian to pitch in relief and the CHS junior calmed the Holbrook offense with several strikeouts. Lyons, who is an assistant coach for the CHS baseball program, said he had seen Vartanian pitch before and “knew he could throw hard.”

The game ended on a nice play by first baseman Michael Birschbach, who caught a foul ball in the outfield and then  threw to first to double off the runner.

Canton built an early lead on a three-run homerun by Kevin Powers, another homerun by Vartanian, whose long fly eluded the left fielder, and a two-run, inside-the-park homerun by catcher Steve Mullaney. Sam Larson also had an inside-the-park homerun for the visitors.

Holbrook would battle back to tie the game, but Canton went ahead for good in the top of the seventh thanks to some solid base running by Matt Shaffer and Birschbach, who both came around to score after reaching base on a walk and an infield single, respectively.

A few days earlier, Canton blanked Milton 7-0 as pitchers Jimmy Fitzgerald and Griffin Jerrier combined on a one-hit shutout. Powers paced the offense with four hits while Kevin O’Brien had three hits and Joe Peccia added two.

The other highlight of the week was a brilliant pitching performance by Larson, who held Hyde Park to four hits in a 3-1 win. Powers, who had a hot week at the plate, blasted a triple, and Vartanian, O’Brien, and Fitzgerald drove in one run apiece.

In other action last week, Canton split two games with Cohasset, losing 10-4 at home and winning 9-6 in Cohasset. Canton also lost to Braintree 10-2 at home.

The team was scheduled to play four consecutive games before the holiday weekend with back-to-back home games against Quincy on Monday and Tuesday and away games against Stoughton and Weymouth on Wednesday and Thursday. Canton will then travel to Braintree for a makeup game Sunday night and will head to Catholic Memorial on Monday, July 7, to play Hyde Park.

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