Starting Pitcher Nico Schwartz (pictured) stares in and reads the signs from his catcher. Photos by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
After months of cancellations and postponements due to COVID-19, organized team sports finally returned to Needham this past week, thanks to the start of the Major Independent Baseball League’s (MIBL) inaugural season.
With the 2020 American Legion season being cancelled, Needham Legion Post 14 formed a team to compete in the MIBL this summer. On Friday, Needham took to the diamond at Memorial Field to host reigning District Six champion Hyde Park.
Hyde Park scored a pair of runs in the top of the first inning off of Needham starter Nico Schwartz to claim a 2-0 lead. Hunter Anderson led off the home half of the first with a double down the left field line and came around to score on a wild pitch. Schwartz reached first on an infield single with two outs. Bryce Anderson followed it up by cracking a double into the left-center field gap to bring home Schwartz as the tying run.
Hyde Park scored another pair in the top of the second with Johnny O’Leary and Nick Pappas hitting back-to-back RBI singles. The game remained 4-2 until the bottom of the third, when Hunter Anderson reached on a single, stole second, and came around to score, thanks to an RBI single by Peyton Rose to center. Hyde Park avoided any further damage and the game remained 4-3 after three full.
Hyde Park bulked their lead back to a pair of runs in the top of fifth. James Birch smacked an RBI single to center to plate Pappas to make it a 5-3 game. Kyle Lambert came on in relief for Needham and produced three shutout innings to keep the game within two runs.
Hunter Anderson led off the bottom of the seventh with a hit-by-pitch, and proceeded to swipe second. With the tying run at the dish with no outs, Hyde Park closer Dan Donato struck out Andrew Stephenson before getting Steven Donovan to ground out to second, moving Anderson over to third. A pop-out to second base left Anderson stranded at third as Hyde Park prevailed by the 5-3 final.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as game highlights, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram @flano0.