NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. - The Northbridge American Legion Baseball Team Post 343 advanced to the finals in state championship play Tuesday, winning against the Milford Legion Team Post 59, 10-2.
Both teams won their games on Monday to advance to the fourth day of tournament play at Paul Walsh Field in New Bedford.
Both teams sported a 2-1 tournament record, and the loser eliminated from final play.
It was the Northbridge teams third win of the season over the Milford Post 59.
Milford was eliminated and Northbridge advances to the finals on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. against the host team, New Bedford, or Billerica who beat them in the first game of the tournament.
With both teams going deep into their pitching staff, Northbridge Manager John Demagian gave the ball to Evan Bertone of Douglas for his first start as a Legion member. Bertone pitched for Douglas High School last spring.
Matt Phelan of Whitinsville went behind the plate to call the game for Bertone.
Milford Manager Brian Macchi countered with Connor Columbo and E.G. McMillan.
Bertone had some first inning jitters, giving up three hits and one run to the Milford Post. But his defense was behind him to put down any further rally from the Milford squad.
Jacob Byrne of Grafton came to the plate as third batter in the bottom half of the first and promptly sent the message that Northbridge wasn’t going down without a fight.
He unloaded on the first pitch, sending it over the left field fence for his third homerun of the tournament.
Bertone gave up a walk to Milford’s first batter in the top half of the second, and then relied on his defense that retired the side then and again in the third and fourth innings.
Northbridge went down one, two, three in the bottom of the second, but came up with another run in the fourth to take a 2-1 lead after three.
Gregg O’Donnell hit a triple to start the fourth for Northbridge and came home on a base hit by his brother, Ben O’Donnell, two batters later.
He later crossed the plate on a fielder’s choice by Matt Niejadlik while Jacob Foynes scored from third on a ground ball to the Milford first baseman to up the Northbridge lead to 5-1.
Milford came back in the fifth inning to plate one run after back to back doubles by Matt Ferrelli and E.G. McMillan.
In the bottom of the fifth, Northbridge bats came alive with four singles, a double and a hit batsman to score five more runs to take a 10-2 lead over Milford.
Jacob Byrne had the double, Gregg O’Donnell, Matt Phelan, Matt Niejadlik and Jordan Smith had base hits for Northbridge and Ben O’Donnell took the hit from Milford pitcher Eric Jurgenson.
Jurgenson came on in relief for Connor Columbo in the fifth inning with two on and no outs for Northbridge.
The top half of the sixth saw Milford go down one, two, three again while Northbridge brought five batters to the plate. But no one scored on a base hit by Nate Pajka of Douglas and another hit batsman Gregg O’Donnell.
In the seventh inning, Milford third baseman grounded out to the Northbridge shortstop Ben O’Donnell. Chris Casey, Milford’s centerfielder, struck out and then the Milford right-fielder, Marr Gerardi, popped flied to Northbridge catcher Matt Phelan for the final out.
Milford finished their season with a very respectable 27-10 record. Northbridge is now 30-9.
/ 2 / 6 / 0 /
/ 10 / 10 / 2 /