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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hudson Post 48 run gives Luis Matrille one last chance

By JOE MARCHILENA

Staff Writer

NASHUA - When the Hudson Post 48 baseball team defeated Exeter Post 32 three weeks ago, there were a few things the players and coaches were unsure would happen.

Hudson didn’t know if it was going to make the American Legion Senior Tournament for the first time since 2010, which meant the players didn’t know if they’d ever take the field with teammate Luis Matrille again. ...

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NASHUA - When the Hudson Post 48 baseball team defeated Exeter Post 32 three weeks ago, there were a few things the players and coaches were unsure would happen.

Hudson didn’t know if it was going to make the American Legion Senior Tournament for the first time since 2010, which meant the players didn’t know if they’d ever take the field with teammate Luis Matrille again.

A member of the National Guard, Matrille was schedule to head to Michigan for two weeks following the win over Exeter, and if Post 48 didn’t find a way to get into the tournament, one of its leaders on and off the field would be done wearing a Hudson uniform.

“We wanted to go out and play ball,” said Dakota Williams, who like Matrille returned to the team a year after graduating. “It had been a couple of years since we’ve made the tournament. It fired us up knowing we wanted to be in the tournament so he could come back and play some more baseball before he had to be done.”

Going into the year, Hudson coach Scott Szuksta knew he’d be losing his right fielder for those final few games, and he and the rest of the coaches tried to figure out what the team needed to do to assure it would still be playing when Matrille came back.

“I sat down after the first week of the season and mapped out a plan for games and where we needed to be before he left and who we were pitching when,” Szuksta said. “You roll the cards. We mapped out a plan to get to at least 11 wins.”

Post 48 won its next two games without Matrille, giving it eight wins in nine games, and Hudson sat at 10-6 with three games remaining. The team lost its next game to Rochester Post 7, but defeated Merrimack Post 98 to clinch the third seed in District B.

“We wanted 12, but we got to 11 like I wanted, and it ended up getting us in,” Szuksta said. “He’s one of our leaders. We’ve got Dakota and (Ryan) Glendye, who are big emotional leaders, but Luis drives the ship. He’s the loudest and the one who gets us going. He’s one of those kids who you miss. We missed him when he was gone and I like the energy that we have when he’s here.”

Matrille was still in Michigan when Hudson opened the tournament last Thursday with a 1-0 win over Sweeney Post 2. As soon as he could, Szuksta gave Matrille a call to let him know the team would be playing the next day at 7 p.m. Since Matrille would be traveling overnight, the late start made a huge difference.

“We took off at 3 a.m. and arrived in Manchester at 5 (and went to Concord), and then I had to drive from Concord to Hudson,” Matrille said. “Once I got home, I went straight to the batting cage for about two hours. I played long toss with a friend. I didn’t sleep at all; I couldn’t sleep. It’s a playoff game and the adrenaline is pumping.

“It was great having that time because I probably wouldn’t have had a great game if I didn’t have that time to get here.”

If there was any rust, it didn’t show, as Matrille had two RBI singles to help Hudson rally for an 11-7 win over Rochester.

“Lou has always been a fighter, no matter what it is,” Williams said. “He’s a great ballplayer and I love playing with him. Every since he moved to Hudson, we have gotten along great. He’s a great kid and he works his hardest.”

For Williams and Matrille, who had been on the team the longest, the tourney run was more than they could have expected. A team full of underdogs, Hudson found ways to win games in any possible fashion and at times surprised itself with how successful the season was. The team finished the tournament 2-2 for an overall record of 13-9.

“We’re constantly telling people, play like it’s your last game, and look where we are,” Matrille said. “No one thought we were going to be here. It was like a dream come true.”