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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
It took 10 innings, an eight-inning gem on the mound by Charlie Sumner, and some swift baserunning by Jake Dateo, but Needham Legion Post 14 was able to come away with a 3-2 victory at Medfield Post 110 6 on Thursday evening in dramatic fashion.
Medfield’s Ryan Johnson, otherwise known as “Pye,” did his share of work on Thursday night as well, throwing seven innings of two-run ball while surrendering just eight hits.Needham plated two runs in the top of the first inning when Belmont Hill’s Robbie Cronin came home on a passed ball to the backstop followed by St. Sebastian’s James Donovan cracking an infield single that plated Alex Cherry from third after Cherry drew a walk, stole second, and advanced to third on a fielder’s choice.
Medfield responded immediately in the home half of the first, as Jarret Lee cracked a double into the left center field gap to lead off the inning. Lee was later tagged out in a rundown following a ground ball to short, but a single by James Voss put runners at first and second with one out. A sacrifice fly to right by Dover-Sherborn’s Ryan Sliwinski put runners on the corners for Ben Adams, and Adams slapped a single up the middle to cut it to a one run game. Sean Tyer then ripped a single into right center field to plate Voss from second, tying the game at two. However, Adams was thrown at third base following a strike from Needham right fielder Patrick Wade of St. Sebastian’s, and the game entered the second inning tied at two.
With each team plating two runs in their respective halves of the first, it appeared as if it was going to be an offensive showcase on Thursday night. That was far from the case, however, as following the first inning, Needham’s Charlie Sumner and Medfield’s Ryan Johnson completely took over the game on the mound.
Needham was able to put runners at the corners with two outs in the top of the second following a walk, steal, and infield hit. However, a groundout to Sliwinski at first put an end to the threat.In the bottom of the second, Medfield was able to put a runner in scoring position following a two-out double to the left-centerfield fence by Sliwinski. However, a groundout to second base ended the inning and left Sliwinski stranded.
Needham loaded the bases with two down in the top of the third inning following back-to-back bunt singles by Jake Dateo and Robbie Cronin as well as an intentional walk issued to Alex Cherry. Unfortunately for Needham, a fielder’s choice ended the inning, and the game remained knotted at two.
Medfield was sent down 1-2-3 by Sumner in their half of the third, but Johnson responded by also sending Needham down in order in the top of the fourth. Medfield was again sent down in order via two groundouts and a fly out in the home half of the fourth, but Johnson again retired all three batters faced in the top of the fifth via a strikeout to Dateo, a pop to second, and a fly to center.
Ryan Johnson singled to begin the bottom of the fifth for Medfield. Jarrett Lee grounded into a fielder’s choice at second, putting a man at first with one out. Lee was able to swipe second base but a pair of fly outs to left field concluded the inning and left Lee stranded in scoring position.
After issuing three two-out walks to load the bases in the top of the sixth, Johnson battled back to strike out Tyler McEvoy swinging to get his team out of a serious jam and enter the bottom half still tied at two. Medfield was sent down in order in the home half of the sixth and the game entered the seventh still tied.
Needham was able to put a runner in scoring position after Tim Noone wore a pitch on the shoulder and stole second. However, a fly out to center by Patrick Wade ended the inning and gave Medfield the chance to walk it off in the bottom half.
A single to center by Jarrett Lee followed by an infield hit by James Voss put the winning run at second for Medfield with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. However, Sumner battled back and struck out the next batter he faced to force the game into extra innings.
A pop out and two strikeouts sent Needham down in the top of the eighth. Ben Adams was able to get on base with two outs in the bottom of the eighth for Medfield but was unable to cross home after Sumner struck out DS’ Hank Reinhart to end the threat and push the game to a ninth frame.
Tyler McEvoy led off the top of the ninth for Needham with a single and proceeded to steal second, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position with no outs. Following a strikeout, McEvoy took off for third on a ground ball to Ryan Sliwinski at first base, but the All-Scholastic recipient fired to third to gun down McEvoy on a bang-bang play for two outs in the inning. Phillips Andover’s Cam Garfield singled to center to extend the inning for Needham, but a groundout to third base ended the inning.
Jake Dateo came on in relief of Sumner in the bottom of the ninth inning, striking out the first two batters he faced. After Medfield put a runner on first via a single, the left-handed Dateo nabbed the runner with a slick pickoff move to end the inning.
Dateo led off the tenth inning for Needham with a perfect bunt single down the third base line and proceeded to steal second base. Following a pair of pop outs, Dateo took off for third base on a steal attempt with two outs and the ball was overthrown into left field, allowing him to run home with the go-ahead run to make it 3-2 Needham.
In the bottom of the tenth, Dateo shut the door on Medfield, dealing a strikeout, a groundout to first, and a fly out to Wade in right field to give Post 14 the 3-2 extra-inning victory.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.