Nice guys get a win for Milford

MILFORD – Milford Post 23 coach Frank Douglas walked off Keyes Field on Wednesday evening proud of his team.

It wasn’t because his team had just ripped Jutras Post 43 12-2 in seven innings in an American Legion game – that outcome was inevitable. It wasn’t because his team collected 10 hits and scored a season-high in runs. Nor was it for the seven strong innings starting pitcher Eddie Clark gave his team.

Douglas’ proudest moment came after the game, when Jutras coach Peter Bissonnette told him his team was the classiest group of players they’ve played against.

“That says something for all of us as a group, what we’re all about,” Douglas said.

It’s been that kind of season for Post 43, which fell to 0-11 for the year with Wednesday’s loss. Jutras has been outscored 144-48, mercy-ruled eight times and its closest margin of defeat was three runs. The fact that it’s fielded a team for each game is an achievement in itself.

But Douglas understands what Post 43 is going through. Milford suffered consecutive 15-loss seasons before turning things around this summer. And although he’s enjoyed his team’s 8-4 season, good for third in Senior District A, Douglas has an appreciation for how much the program has grown in the last three years.

“We’ve had a lot of young kids,” he said. “They’ve progressed to the point where they practice a lot on their game. If we keep playing the game the way we are we could have a spot in the playoffs, so that’s a big change, 2-15 to the playoffs.

“It definitely helps to have been there before.”

Douglas said once his team’s lead gets to six runs, he tells his players not to bunt, not to steal and not to advance on a passed ball. He tells them to instead work on their swing and plate approach.

“I don’t tell them to take anything off, don’t change any of their habits at bat, because I don’t want them to start creating bad habits for themselves, so if they throw strikes we’re gonna hit them,” he said.

It didn’t take long for Post 23 to reach that six-run mark.

It scored seven runs on eight hits in the first two innings off Jutras starter Jordan Bussiere. The right-hander gave up 10 runs, eight hits and four walks over four-plus innings in Wednesday’s losing effort.

Ryan Britton went 2 for 3 at the plate with three runs and three RBIs.

He drove in the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning with a single to score Jake McMaster.

Pat Martin doubled Britton home one batter later with a hit into the left-center field gap, and Cam Douglas plated Martin with a single to center to give Milford a quick 4-0 lead.

Six more runs in the next two innings gave Clark plenty to work with. He allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and a walk to go with five strikeouts for the win.

“It’s a good game for us to not use a lot of pitching, good game to get some kids in that haven’t played,” Douglas said.