Post 24 celebrates memorable summer season at awards banquet

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Celebrating the most successful summer season in the modern era, the coaches of the Canton American Legion Post 24 baseball team presented four special awards at a recent season-ending banquet.

This year’s senior Legion team made it all the way to the District 6 semifinals, where they lost to a very good Quincy team 10-9 in extra innings. Canton’s only other loss in the tournament also came against Quincy, but the squad still had a winning record in the playoffs (3-2) with victories over Foxboro, Franklin, and eventual state champion Braintree. Canton, in fact, defeated Braintree three times this season — twice with superb pitching performances by rookie pitcher Justin Wenstrom. Counting the postseason, the team finished the summer campaign at 15-9 overall.

Coach Walter Mann with Mike McMahon, recipient of the Bob Brown Award (Mike Berger photo)

Coach Walter Mann with Mike McMahon, recipient of the Bob Brown Award (Mike Berger photo)

At the banquet held at the Canton Town Club, Ryan Sullivan received the Bobby Witt Award for hitting while Brad Zhonghetti earned the Witt Award for pitching. Sullivan, a recent Stoughton High graduate and standout three-sport athlete, batted .471 for the Post 24 while swiping 17 bases. Zhonghetti, a recent Sharon High grad, led the team in wins and relief appearances while posting an impressive 1.79 earned run average.

Earning the team’s Rookie of the Year Award was catcher Jake Marglous, who threw out several runners and produced several key hits and RBIs.

Also honored at the banquet was Canton’s Mike McMahon, who received the coveted Bob Brown Award for his daily commitment to the team and hustle on the diamond. Named in honor of “Brownie,” the late team founder and longtime coach, the award is presented annually to a player who shows up daily and asks how he can contribute to the team.

“It’s a guy who shows up every day, shows up early for batting practice, and plays good, hard baseball,” said coach Al Jackson. “In Mike’s case, he might have played out of position but played and played well. His catch in left field in the playoff game against Foxboro was phenomenal. We might not have won without that catch.”

A 2016 Canton High graduate, McMahon now plays for Becker College and saw action in 16 games as a freshman, batting .308 with five runs scored.

McMahon and the other three award winners were not the only talented players on this year’s Legion team, according to head coach Greg Lyons and fellow coaches Jackson and Walter Mann. All of the players, they said, gave 100 percent effort and played wherever they were needed, even at pitcher when the team was running low on available arms.

Jackson said that one of the highlights for him was the playoff win against Franklin, the top overall seed in the district. Canton was the road team and a clear underdog, but the players were totally unfazed as they gave Franklin an “11-1 shellacking.”

“Then against Quincy in the semifinals, you faced deficits of 5-1, 9-5, and you fought back,” Jackson said. “You competed and played very hard and that’s all we could ask. Hey, 12 games in 14 days and you still fought hard, right to the last out.”

In addition to the four award winners, other members of this year’s senior Legion team were Ruben Gonzalez, Jack Connelly, Joe Peccia, Aidan Arnold, Max Tarlin, Luke Johnson, Pat Hagerty, Andrew Bryant, Matt Casamento, Andrew Filipkowski, Robert Sullivan, Kevin Powers and Matt Gallagher.

Post 24 Commander John Carrington said the parents of both the senior and junior teams should be proud of how their sons performed and represented the American Legion. “We followed what you did and couldn’t be prouder,” he said. “More success breeds more support.”

Mann added, “It was a hell of a year. We had a great team and we had a good bunch of kids.”

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