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By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
All seemed well for Needham Legion Post 14 on Monday night, as the Needham High, St. Sebastian’s, Belmont Hill and Wellesley High boys carried a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth against rival Walpole Post 104 at Eldracher Field.Despite being down by four in the middle innings, Walpole flexed its muscle and proved why it was one of the favorites to win District Six this summer, finding a run to cut the deficit to 4-1 after four before a garnering a four-run fifth inning rally to take a 5-4 lead, and eventually the one-run victory.
With the game still scoreless in the top of the fourth, Needham’s bats came alive. Kevin MacKenzie began the rally with a single to left, followed by a fielder’s choice on a grounder to third by Matt Connelly. Hunter Anderson followed it up by smacking a single to center to plate MacKenzie with the game’s opening run as Needham took a 1-0 lead. After advancing to second on the throw to the plate, Anderson stole third and came in to score on a high throw that went into left field, doubling Needham’s lead to 2-0. Back-to-back walks by Dan DeMayo and Drew Dorsey, followed by a single to left by Jack Kamke, loaded the bases for Bryce Anderson. On a 1-2 count, Anderson cracked a single to left, plating both DeMayo and Dorsey to give Needham a four-run lead.Walpole cut into the deficit in the home half, following back-to-back singles by Matt Falvey and Jackson Walonis to start the inning. A deep fly to center by Chris McLean allowed Falvey to tag and advance to third. Walonis took second on a ball in the dirt before Will Jarvis struck out for the second out in the inning. Needham nearly escaped the jam without any damage, but an infield single by John Brady with two outs got Walpole on the board as Falvey came in to score, and Needham’s lead was trimmed to 4-1 after four full.
Ziggy Bowles worked a 1-2-3 top of the fifth to keep it a 4-1 game heading to the bottom half. Aidan Murray and Drew Von Klock drew back-to-back walks to begin the bottom of the fifth, followed by an RBI single by Jack Magane to trim the deficit down to 4-2. Matt Falvey grounded into a fielder’s choice with runners at first and third to make it one out in the inning with runners at first and third. Jackson Walonis grounded out to third to plate Von Klock and cut the deficit to 4-3. An infield single by McLean scored Falvey to tie the game before Will Jarvis shot a double into the left-centerfield gap to plate McLean from first and give Walpole its first lead of the night at 5-4. Walpole almost made it a two-run game following a single to center by Brady, however, a hose home by Bryce Anderson nailed Jarvis at the plate attempting to score. Walpole took a 5-4 lead into the sixth.
Each team was held off the board in the sixth, allowing Tufts-bound right-hander Matt Donato the chance to come in and close the door for Walpole. Donato struck out Bryce Anderson, got Will Foley to pop out to first, and induced a game-ending groundout to third.
For funny and insightful sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter @fLAno0.