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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The last time Needham and Braintree baseball met was last June in the Division I South semifinals, a game that Needham won 5-4 via a walk-off en route to the Division I state championship.
On Monday, the Wamps and Rockets met for the first time since their epic playoff clash last spring, but unfortunately for Needham, history did not repeat itself; a four-run rally by Braintree in the top half of the seventh blew the game open and propelled the Wamps to a 7-1 victory.
Will Foley got the start for Needham, inducing a pair of fly outs to begin the game and working around an infield hit to get an inning-ending strikeout. Needham went down in order in the home half of the first, and the game remained scoreless headed to the second.
Braintree got to Foley in the top of the second with back-to-back infield hits to start the inning. A passed ball moved the runners up to second and third before a sacrifice fly to left gave the Wamps a 1-0 lead. A walk, followed by another passed ball and a single to left, plated a pair of runs and gave Braintree a 3-0 lead after an inning and a half.
Tom Chmielewski drew a walk with one out in the bottom of the second, followed by an infield hit from Steve Donovan. A passed ball moved the runners up to second and third, but Chmielewski was gunned down at home on a ground ball to third to make it two outs in the inning. A ground-out to first ended the inning and the deficit remained 3-0.
Foley settled in and the game remained 3-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth. Garrett Hirsch drove a double into the left-centerfield gap and moved over to third on a wild pitch. Foley grounded out to second to plate the run from third and make it a 3-1 game after five innings.
No runs came across in the sixth inning for either side, but Braintree blew it open in the top of the seventh with an RBI single and a three-run home run. Needham was sent down in order in the bottom half and Braintree avenged last year’s season-ending defeat to the Rockets with a 7-1 win.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0.