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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Westwood Post 320, featuring players from Westwood and Xaverian, traveled to Needham Legion Post 14, featuring players from Needham, Wellesley, St. Sebastian’s and the US Performance Academy, on Sunday afternoon for a pivotal District Six West Division showdown with the postseason less than a week away.
Trailing 6-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Needham rallied for four runs, culminating with a suicide squeeze by James Donovan to plate Charlie Sumner from third, giving Post 14 the thrilling come-from-behind, 7-6, walk-off victory.
Westwood’s bats came alive early, as Post 320 plated three runs in the first. Michael Sateriale led off the game with a double to left-center before advancing to third on a wild pitch. James Bean singled home Sateriale with a bullet to left. Bean moved over to second following a single by Sean Birch. Both runners moved over on a fielder’s choice at first and then came around to score, thanks to a two RBI single by Kevin McDonald to make it a 3-0 game after a half inning.
Needham got a run back in the home half of the first when Charlie Roberts led off the inning with a walk and came around to score on a throwing error to first base. A pair of fielder’s choices, however, got Westwood out of the inning. Post 320 led, 3-1, after one.
Owen Zides of Wellesley came on to pitch for Post 14 in the top of the second, recording a strikeout and forcing Sateriale to ground into an inning-ending double play. Mike Giovino came on to pitch for Westwood in the bottom of the second and scrapped his way out of a one-out jam with a runner on second by recording a pair of fly outs to keep it a two-run game after two.
Zides was able to work around a walk and an infield hit in the top of the third by recording a pop out to first and a fly to left to conclude the inning, stranding runners at the corners. However, Giovino kept pace for Westwood and stranded a runner at second, thanks to a diving stab and step on the bag at first by Reed Cottens, which saved a run, followed by an inning-ending groundout to first by Sumner.
Westwood was finally able to crack Zides in the top of the fourth as Pat Tevenan slammed a triple down the left field line with runners on first and second. Ben Goodrich came around to score to make it a 4-1 game, but Needham was able to nail Giovino at the plate for the first out of the inning. Sateriale followed it up with an RBI single to left to plate Tevenan and extend the lead to 5-1. Zides settled in and recorded fly outs to center and right to limit the damage to a pair of runs.
Giovino recorded a groundout, a line out to second, and a strikeout of Charlie Roberts to get Westwood to the fifth with a four-run lead. Zides surrendered a leadoff double to McDonald in the top of the fifth, followed by a walk to Cottens. Roberts came on to pitch for Post 14 and recorded a fielder’s choice at third and a pair of strikeouts to get Needham out of the inning unscathed.
Needham got a pair of runs back with a two-out rally in the home half of the fifth. A throwing error at first on a pick-off attempt with runners at first and second brought home Pat Wade and allowed Robby Smith to advance to second. Sumner then cracked a single to right field to plate Smith and make it a 5-3 game after five full.
Westwood extended their lead back to three runs in the top of the sixth when Birch doubled home Bean, who reached on a single with two outs, as Post 320 took a 6-3 lead. Giovino came back out for the sixth and recorded a fly out and a pair of groundouts to get Westwood to the seventh still up by three.
Roberts sent Westwood down in order in the top of the seventh to keep deficit at three. Drew Dorsey led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to left, followed by a double to left-center by Wade, putting runners at second and third with nobody out. Smith cracked a single to right to score Dorsey and make it a 6-4 game. Sumner drew a walk to load the bases, then Alex Cherry reached on an error at short on a grounder, bringing in Wade and making it a one-run game with still nobody out. Tim Noone wore a pitch on the shoulder to bring home Smith as the tying run, and James Donovan capped off the rally by laying down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to score Sumner from third, giving Needham the walk-off victory.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0.