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By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
American Legion Post 14 welcomed first-place Norwood on Monday night at Needham High School. Despite giving starter Will Foley some early run support, a five-run third inning by Post 70 proved to be the difference as Norwood earned an 8-5 victory to remain atop the District Six West Division standings.
Foley pitched a 1-2-3 first inning for Post 14 that included a strikeout and a pair of groundouts before the bats came alive in the home half.
Belmont Hill’s Hunter Anderson led off the bottom of the first with a single, stole second, and advanced to third on a passed ball. Foley wore one on the arm to put runners at first and third but was caught stealing. A passed ball to the backstop then allowed Anderson to run home with the game’s opening run, giving Needham a 1-0 lead. A single by St. Sebastian’s Drew Dorsey and back-to-back walks by Wellesley’s Matt Connelly and Westwood’s Joe Fiore loaded the bases. A bases-loaded balk by the Norwood pitcher then allowed Dorsey to come with the game’s second run to make it 2-0 Needham. Wellesley native and second baseman Luke Zides nearly busted the game open with a line drive into right-center, but it was for naught as a nice running catch by the Norwood outfielder ended the inning and limited the damage to a pair of runs for Needham.
Despite issuing a pair of walks in the top of the second, Foley worked his way out of trouble with a pop to first, a fly-out to left, and an inning-ending strikeout with runners at second and third following a passed ball.
Owen Zides led off the bottom of the second with a hit-by-pitch. Andrew Ko followed it by drawing a walk to put runners at first and second. A fly to center allowed Zides to tag to third before a steal from Ko put both runners in scoring position. A fly to right and a dart of a throw to the plate nailed Zides attempting to tag and score, and the Needham lead remained at a pair heading to the third.
Foley began the top of the third with a strikeout but then surrendered three straight hits (single, single, double) as Norwood cut the deficit to 2-1 and moved runners to second and third with just one out. A hit-by-pitch loaded the bases and a single to right plated a pair to give Norwood a 3-2 lead. Foley responded with a strikeout, but a passed ball allowed the runners to move to second and third. A single to center brought both runners in as Norwood took a 5-2 lead into the home half.
Dorsey and Connelly led off the home half of the third with back-to-back singles. Fiore walked to load the bases for Danny DeMayo, who singled to center to plate Dorsey and cut the deficit to 5-3. Back-to-back strikeouts would limit the damage to just one run, however, as the game entered the fourth with Norwood still ahead, 5-3.
Norwood added a pair of runs in the top of the fourth to extend their lead back to four at 7-3. Ko led off the bottom for the fourth with a double to left-center. Anderson wore a pitch on the arm, followed by a walk by Foley to load the bases. Dorsey drove in Ko with a sacrifice fly to center to cut the deficit to 7-4, but a pop-out to first by Connelly and an inning-ending strikeout by Fiore got Norwood out of the frame with just a single run allowed.
Norwood added to its lead in the top of the fifth, thanks to back-to-back doubles, making it an 8-4 game. An RBI single by Owen Zides in the bottom of the sixth cut the deficit to 8-5 but that’s the closest Post 14 would get. Norwood shut the door in the bottom of the seventh to take it by the three-run final.
For funny and insightful sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter @fLAno0.