American Legion: Belchertown Post 239 eliminated from state tourney by Beverly (PHOTOS)
|Published: 07-24-2023 8:22 PM
NATICK – Western Massachusetts baseball showed it can hang with anyone in the state.
Though Belchertown Post 239 dropped out of the double-elimination American Legion Senior Division state tournament after an 8-3 loss against Beverly Post 331 on Monday, the collection of talent representing five schools survived the opening weekend and pushed Beverly’s Bishop Fenwick-laden squad to the end.
“We’re pretty unique here in the state tournament because we have so many different towns. Everybody else is all from the same town,” said Hadley’s Jake Smith, who plays for Williston Northampton. “For us to come together, some of us have played with each other, some haven’t, separating Western Mass. rivalries, we played some really good baseball all season. We’ve got a lot of good baseball players in Western Mass., we proved that.”
Smith had two hits and drove in two runs with a single in the third inning. That put Belchertown ahead 3-0 and gave Post 239 a cushion. Belchertown’s Andrew Fijal put his team on the board initially in the same inning. He doubled then went to third on a Cody West infield single. West stole second base, and Fijal (two hits) took home on the throw to try and get him out. Tyler McDonald singled behind West, and they both came home on Smith’s hit.
“It’s just my same approach, I’m finding a fastball,” Smith said. “I was fortunate enough to have two guys on base when I found that hole.”
It put Beverly in a hole, but Post 331 dug out of it. They scored eight unanswered runs: two in the fourth, three in the fifth and three more in the sixth on three consecutive RBI singles. Logan Petrosino provided the go-ahead RBI single in the fifth.
“We’ve seen these guys and whether it’s travel baseball or state tournaments from high school, you run into some of these guys. I know the programs they come from, and they’re quality programs,” Belchertown coach Todd McDonald said. “We knew that we almost had to play, I don't want to say flawless baseball, but we had to play near perfect baseball because once they got their bats going, they were going.”
Beverly knocked in 11 hits and had seven RBIs. Post 331 hit three doubles.
Belchertown went down 1-2-3 in the fifth but had three batters reach base in the sixth, including a lead-off single. Unfortunately the second two balls in play landed in nearly the exact same place in shallow right field between three Beverly defenders. Both looked like a popout so neither Belchertown baserunner was heading hard for second base for fear of a double play on the throw. Instead, both balls dropped, and Post 331 cut down the lead runner at second twice for fielder’s choices.
“That’s baseball. It’s just weird, it’s frustrating to watch because you think you can advance a base,” McDonald said. “But that’s just the game. It’s a round ball, round bat and a lot of open space. Things happen.”
Post 239 won eight of its final 10 games after an unbeaten run in the District 1 tournament.
“Legion baseball, there’s great pride in playing with this patch on,” Smith said. “Being a younger guy on this team I’m going to cherish this moment. I love playing with the older guys. I’m hopefully gonna do the best I can to come back next year because this really means a lot.”Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.