Nashua needs two more wins in Junior American Legion tournament
SALEM – Nashua Post 124 faced adversity for the first time this summer and overcame it with aplomb in Monday night’s must-win Junior American Legion state tournament game at Michele Park.
Nashua took an early two-run lead then held on for a 3-2 win over Lebanon Post 22, setting the stage for a rematch against Dover Post 8 in Tuesday’s final.
Nashua head coach Jeff Lunn stressed the must-win prior to Monday’s game.
“I told them from the beginning that we’re not guaranteed tomorrow,” Lunn said. “This is the first time we really faced adversity like this all season. So I told them we’ve got to be ready for it, because we’re playing with our backs against the wall.
“It was nice to see them pull this out with a little pressure on them for a change.”
Dover, the only team to beat Nashua this season – 5-1 in Sunday night’s postseason action – is undefeated in the tournament. Nashua must beat Dover twice, with Game 1 set for 4:15 p.m. and Game 2 for 7 if needed at
Monday night, Nashua was living on the edge in the bottom of the fifth inning. A 3-0 Post 124 lead, built on single runs in the first, third and fifth innings, suddenly vanished as Lebanon scored twice on two hits, a walk and a pair of errors.
The inning could have ended much worse, as Lebanon loaded the bases with two outs, but pitcher James Reel dug deep and induced Post 22’s John Hill to pop up with second baseman Alex Lambalot hauling it in for the final out of the inning.
“Jimmy’s awesome,” Lunn said. “Jimmy’s great. I can always count on him to throw strikes, get ahead of counts and attack guys when he really needs to.”
Reel, who finished the night scattering seven hits and walking two over seven innings, settled back into his groove for the sixth and seventh innings to record the win. Lebanon’s two runs were unearned during the error-riddled fifth.
Nashua opened the scoring with a run in the first, as Ethan Smith hit a lead-off single, stole second and eventually scored on a Chris Keefe single. Post 124 added another in the third when Zachary Rioux singled, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Keefe. The lead grew in the top of the fifth when Brendan Callahan singled, stole second, advanced to third on a pitch in the dirt and scored on a Rioux ground out to first.
Despite the error-plagued fifth inning, defense did play a big role in Nashua’s win.
With Lebanon hoping to get things going in the fourth inning, Braeden Falzarano had a one-out single, but was caught slowing down headed to second on a sharply-hit single to right field by Calvin Bates. Nashua right fielder James Bergin collected the ball on one hop and fired a dart to force Falzarano out at second.
In the bottom of the seventh, defensive replacement Corey O’Day kept the tying run at first by blocking a ball in the dirt with one out. That Lebanon runner was stranded at first as Reel then induced a pop up to first baseman Isaac Zhang and a fly ball to Bergin to close the game.
“When you make mistakes, you’ve got to minimize them,” Lunn said. “That’s what the guys did. I thought we could have done a little better with the bats, but I’ll take the win.”
Dover needed four pitchers to get the job done, and that’s exactly what Post 8’s Brady Mourgenos (two innings, one hit, one strikeout), John Lucas Russell (two innings, two hits, two runs), Gavin Hills (two innings, three hits, one walk, one run) and Jackson McCoy (one inning, one hit, two strikeouts) did.
Dover held off Hudson Post 48 4-3 Monday afternoon to reach the 2019 Junior American Legion state tournament final against Nashua today at 4:15 at Michele Park.
David Picou, Ken Healy, Alex Noel and Jake Smith paced Dover’s offense against Hudson pitcher Jagger Forsyth, who pitched all six innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits and three walks. Forsyth struck out three in defeat.
Hudson’s offense was paced by Travis Holbrook, who went 2 for 3 with a single and triple, scored once and knocked in two runs. Evan Beals and Kyle Boulanger scored the other two runs for Hudson.