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Needham’s MIBL team falls to 0-3

Good effort to run out this ground ball from Hunter Anderson, even in a game that wasn’t going Needham’s way.

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

With no American Legion baseball being played this year, the Massachusetts Independent Baseball League has stepped in to take its place. So, while the Needham team dropped to 0-3 on Sunday with an 11-3 loss to Milton, both the players and the coaches are grateful to be playing baseball at all.

Needham got in a hole early, and never managed to get out of it. Starting pitcher Will Roberts only made it partly through the second inning, in part due to a missed tag by the third basemen and his catcher’s inability to field a ball in the dirt, doing him no favors. He was replaced by Connor Braley, who let up a pair of runs before making it out of the inning with Needham down 4-0.

Connor Braley’s performance on the mound stood out as a highlight on a rough night, as did the mask discipline from Milton’s third base coach.

A Bryce Anderson single, after hits from Hunter Anderson and Joe Dateo put Needham on the board soon after. However, in the fourth inning, Needham botched a pickle between second and third, resulting in Milton adding to its lead. Kyle Lambert’s stand-up triple led to one run scoring, but Needham left the bases loaded and trailed 6-2.

Needham replaced Braley with Paul Guiney, whose initial accuracy issues and another fielding error gave Milton plenty of base runners. A triple cleared the bases, another run scored, and all of a sudden Needham was in deep trouble.

While they would score again in the sixth, and Hunter Anderson would come in to pitch and end the inning quickly, Needham had another issue: the time. This league has a rule that an inning cannot begin after 8 p.m. So, while Needham had "last ups" and a possible - although highly unlikely - chance to come back, they didn’t get the opportunity. The umpires called the game after the sixth inning.   

Coach Chris Krechting noted the fielding errors and the role they played in giving up so many runs, arguing that it was an unusual problem for the team.  

“We got in a hole early and didn’t play good defense tonight, which is unusual. Usually we play very good defense. We’re finally coming around to hitting the ball a little bit better, which is good. I’m encouraged about that. We’ve been working hard on it. We’ll go again tomorrow night. I think Connor Braley came in and did a really nice job pitching. He held us in there for a little while. We just made so many errors tonight that the pitchers couldn’t keep us in the game forever.”

While normally a good defensive team, Needham had costly errors all over the field on Sunday.

Because of the coronavirus crisis, the level of baseball hasn’t been what it would have been, had the players been playing for months. Coach Krechting acknowledged that, but still wanted to point out that it’s great to be playing baseball again, no matter what his team’s record is.

Paul Guiney shows frustration at a missed pitch during a rough outing for Needham.

“It’s great to play. It took a lot to put this league together, it is not Legion baseball, but it’s a subset of that. It’s awesome to see that the kids are so excited to play. There are a lot of games very quickly. The whole month of July is all baseball, and a little bit of August. But it’s very cool to be playing baseball again. Some of these kids hadn’t played ball in a year, and a lot of them that were in college had their college season stopped short in the middle of the season. So, there’s been a lot of rust, especially on the hitting side, for all the teams in the league. It’s nice to see the rust coming off right now, though - for us, at least.”

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