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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Merrimack Post 98 roughs up Hudson Post 48 to end American Legion season

HUDSON – It hasn’t been the easiest season for the Merrimack Post 98 baseball team.

Playing in its season finale on Sunday evening, the team made up for the frustrating season in a big way. ...

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HUDSON – It hasn’t been the easiest season for the Merrimack Post 98 baseball team.

Playing in its season finale on Sunday evening, the team made up for the frustrating season in a big way.

Post 98 scored 17 runs over the final three frames as it easily topped Hudson Post 48 in seven innings, 23-2. The 23 runs were the most scored by a Senior District B team this season and nearly doubled Merrimack’s previous season-high of 12.

Post 98 (6-12) plated at least a run in each of the first four innings, but only led 6-2 heading into the fifth. Merrimack put the game away in that frame; the squad sent 11 men to the plate and scored all of its runs with two outs.

“It just shows you that whether it’s the last game or the first game, these guy are going to put up a fight,” Merrimack coach Cliff Hicks said. “It’s bittersweet that it happened at the end of the season, but it’s nice that they put it all together.”

The offense finished with 15 hits and eight walks. Taylor Black reached base six times, scoring five runs and knocking in four RBIs. Steve McFadden and Brendan Carter finished with four RBIs apiece while Michael Gasper scored four runs.

Brendan Holt got the start for Merrimack, his first appearance of the season. The righty allowed two runs on seven hits and five walks.

“He really hasn’t pitched in the five years I’ve had him as a player,” Hicks said. “This was like a sendoff and we were going to let him pitch as long as he could. He actually threw great, so it’s somewhat my own mistake for not pitching him earlier.”

The game wasn’t all that important for Hudson (11-7), since the squad had already locked up the third seed in the playoffs. That did little to ease coach Scott Szuksta’s frustrations, however.

“I think we came out flat because we knew our spot in the playoffs was locked up,” he said. “I didn’t try to advertise that. The kids knew, and I think from our effort and mental approach, that was pretty evident. It was very disappointing.”

Chris Murphy got the start for Post 48 and was solid in his four innings of work. The righty allowed six runs on six hits and four walks. Hudson scored its first run in the first inning when Tyler Brown scored on a Dakota Williams double. The team’s other run came on a Kellin Bail sacrifice fly in the second.

While the loss certainly wasn’t encouraging, Szuksta was still pleased with his team’s production throughout the regular season.

“I don’t think a lot of people expected us to do as well as we did,” he said. “On paper, teams like Londonderry and Nashua probably have a lot more talent than we do, but I think we did a nice job of putting it together.”

Still, he understands that his team has some work to do heading into the postseason.

“We have to start hitting again,” he said. “We’ve been a little light on the bats the past couple of games, so that’s key.”