|Flynn, Post 68 Win American Legion Tournament Opener|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com Sports|
10:02PM / Wednesday, July 18, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Jake Flynn was on fire, and the Post 68 bats were red hot as the team opened sectional tournament play with a 12-1 win over Wilbraham on Pellerin Field at Clapp Park on Wednesday night.
Flynn cruised through five innings of work, allowing just one hit and striking out nine, and Ian Benoit launched a two-out, three-run double to right center to end the game via the mercy rule in the bottom of the sixth.
Post 68 stays in the winner's bracket of the double-elimination phase of the tournament and will go to Greenfield on Thursday night.
Flynn was the story on Wednesday, not allowing a baserunner through the first three innings and retiring the side in order on two strikeouts an a groundball in the fifth before giving the ball to Hunter Potash, who worked a scoreless sixth.'
Wilbraham Post 286 had no answer for Flynn's curve ball, which kept opposing hitters off balance all game.
"I was feeling good today," Flynn said. "I was just trying to throw strikes out there today, mix up my pitches and get ahead with a first pitch strike. Just trying to get ahead on batters.
"The curve ball was working. They were chasing a little bit in the beginning of the game, so I just kept rocking with it the whole game."
The 2017 Taconic High graduate bounced back after a rough outing in his last regular season appearance for Post 68.
"He was hitting his spots extremely well," Post 68 coach Pat Bassi said. "I talked to him while he was warming up today, telling him to watch his release point and ... speeding up his curve ball a little bit, he was trying to throw it too slow.
"He threw a couple of curve balls a little high in the first inning, but once he adjusted, he was spot on."
Flynn got all the run support he needed in the bottom of the second, when Post 68 used four hits and three walks to rally for six runs.
Joe Traversa drew a walk to get things started, and Gabe Verdi followed with a one-out walk before Cal Messina dropped down a picture-perfect bunt and reached base to load the bases.
It was one of three successful bunts on the night for Post 68; the other two were sacrficices.
"Being a small ball guy, it's very important to me that everybody can bunt," Bassi said. "Just about everybody on the team can bunt. Having Cal and [Noah] Hunter and guys like that all in a row, so to speak, gives you a lot of flexibility in what you can do.
"And if you draw the infield in, you can pop the ball right by 'em. That helps your hitters out hitting ground ball, and a couple of them went through because they're playing up. That's a big help."
Carter Mathews groundout erased Messina but allowed Traversa to score the game's first run. After Benoit drew a walk to reload the bases, Jack Cooney dropped a single into left to drive in a pair of runs. Potash then followed with a with a two-run double off the fence in left, and Joe Woronick singled up the middle to drive in a run.
In the fifth, Joe Cracolici and pinch-hitter J.P. Levesque each reached on an infield single ahead of Benoit's RBI single to make it 7-1.
The final rally was helped along by four walks and an error before Benoit ended the game with a bases-clearing hit to right center.