Legion baseball: Belchertown stays unbeaten, blanks Aldenville 3-0

Belchertown Post 239 batter Patrick Fitzgibbons (35) hits a hard ground ball for a single against Greenfield Post 81 earlier this season in Belchertown.

Belchertown Post 239 batter Patrick Fitzgibbons (35) hits a hard ground ball for a single against Greenfield Post 81 earlier this season in Belchertown. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 07-10-2024 8:33 PM

BELCHERTOWN — How about a dozen, Post 239?

It wasn’t the typical offensive onslaught that the Belchertown Post 239 Senior American Legion team has gotten accustomed to over the course of the summer, but it got the job done behind scorching southpaw Cody West on its home field Wednesday evening.

After scoring at least seven runs in their last five games (including three games of 13-plus), Post 239 was held to three runs against Aldenville Post 337.

That trio of runs was plenty for West, however, as the rising sophomore at Rivier University and former Hopkins Academy standout struck out five while giving up two walks and seven hits over the course of his complete-game shutout – lifting Belchertown to a 3-0 win to improve to a perfect 12-0 this season.

“He’s a tremendous leader,” Belchertown assistant coach Mark Zawistowski said. “He’s one of the college kids we have back to pitch, and he’s just a great leader out there. When he is on the mound, he is in control. He’s in control of hitters, he’s in control of his emotions out there, and it just makes it a lot easier to play defense behind him.”

Without a sizable portion of its players (due to vacation and the Bay State Games), as well as its head coach Todd McDonald, Belchertown still played lights out – just as it has throughout the summer.

Even when Post 239 does have their full roster at their disposal, they typically give everyone at least an inning or two of playing time every game. That way when a situation like Wednesday’s arises, nobody flinches.

The next-man-up mantra might as well be stamped inside their dugout.

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“We’ve been rotating guys in and out the whole season,” Zawistowski said. “We want to keep them all fresh so that they’re ready for the playoff run, and it also builds that team unity. When everyone is playing, everybody is involved and everybody is engaged.”

Both West and Aldenville pitcher Matt Drobiak (South Hadley) navigated through the first inning scoreless. In the bottom of the second, Belchertown threatened with runners on first and second and one out after Brady Perkins (double) and Jacob Smith (walk) reached base.

Two batters later, Evan Ferguson reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases with two down in the frame. Spencer Waite stepped up and grounded a slow roller to the short stop. The throw over to first scooted away and scored both Perkins and Smith.

Post 239 has made a living off opposing teams’ errors all summer, and they did again on Wednesday.

“It was huge,” Zawistowski said of the two runs. “One of the things we’ve been trying to capitalize on all season is when the other team makes mistakes, we’re gonna pounce. We have a bunch of guys who are eager to go up there and hit with runners on base. We’re gonna hit, we’re gonna run and we’re gonna put the pressure on.”

Drobiak (three runs, one earned, two walks, four Ks) tossed all six innings for Post 337 while adding three hits in three at bats at the dish. Belchertown’s only other run – Drobiak’s lone earned run – came in the bottom of the fourth when Perkins singled and scored on a Smith double.

Drobiak is the first pitcher to have held Post 239 to under four runs all season, but Belchertown adjusted and relied on its strong defense and lights out pitching from West to find another way to come out on top.

“You’ve seen us win games 13-11 this summer, but you’ve also seen us win games 4-3 in extra innings,” Zawistowski said. “We can adapt to how things are going on in the game because we’re just ready to play.”

Aldenville threatened with runners on the corners and two outs in the top of the sixth, but Patrick Fitzgibbons shut the door when he leaped to snag a high chopper at third base, gathered his footing and delivered a bullet over to first to get the runner in time and end the inning.

Post 239 flashed the leather several times in the win.

“[They play] loose, and when you have loose ball players who are really talented, they make all kinds of great plays,” Zawistowski said. “Today you saw those great plays.”

Belchertown (12-0) hosts Westfield Post 124 on Friday evening (5:45 p.m.)

West Springfield Post 207 1, Northampton Post 28 0 — Liam Flynn allowed just one un-earned run over six innings but Northampton’s offense couldn’t scrape anything together in a scoreless loss on the road on Wednesday evening.

Flynn walked two, struck out two and allowed just that un-earned run in the third inning.

Post 28 didn’t record a hit until the sixth inning when Elijah Rubinstein ripped a lead-off double off of Post 207’s Gavin Hall. Three batters later, no with two outs in the inning, Trey Kuzmeski singled to left. Rubinstein rounded third and headed for home before being gunned down at the plate by a perfect throw to end the inning.

Northampton (7-5) is home against Westfield on Thursday evening at Arcanum Field. First pitch is scheduled for 5:45 p.m.