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Milford Legion had an amazing run
Milford Legion started off the 2014 season with former assistant coach Steven DiVitto taking over as the new head coach. Milford Post 59 was fresh off a state tournament title in 2013 and had high hopes heading into the 2014 season. Milford struggled throughout the first half of the season and was at a 7 and 7 record with only 10 games left to go, it seemed unlikely Milford was going to be able to turn it around. Milford reached a new low point when they dropped a 14-4 mercy-ruled game to Northboro on July 4th. After the mercy loss to last place Northboro, Milford would turn it around beating first place Grafton Hill the next day 5-0. Hopkinton Hiller Matt Decina went 4-for-4 at the plate with a double and four RBIs in the victory.
Milford closed out the final games of the season winning 10 straight and clinching a District 4 playoff spot with the number 1 seed at 17 and 7. Fantastic pitching from Dan Mantoni, Dan Avery, David Sampson and Kevin Martinis as well as explosive hitting from Andrew McMillan, Dan Mantoni, Kevin Martinis and Matt Decina played a large part into the huge turnaround.
In the District 4 playoffs Milford knocked out Leominster by winning the first 2 games of the best of 3 series, 10-4 and 8-5. Milford would then lose the first game to Wachusett in the finals 2-0 as Tanyon Ventres pitched a complete game gem. The Milord Post 59 bats came alive once again in game 2 to capture an 11-2 victory and tie the series at one game a piece. Game 3 was a pitchers duel that went into extra innings, Joe White had a walk off hit in the 9th inning to push Milford Post 59 into the state tournament.
Milford carried strong momentum right into the state tournament as they took down Lowell 10-1 in game 1 (July 26th), Greenfield by mercy in 8 innings 11-1 in game 2 (July 27th) and shutout Newburyport 3-0 in game 3 (July 28th). Milford dropped game 4 to Kingston 13-10 (July 29th) but already earned a spot in the state finals. On the final day of the state tournament (July 30th) Newburyport eliminated Kingston with a 3-2 victory in the afternoon game to set up a Milford-Newburyport state final that night.
The state finals featured a pitching matchup of Ryan Kuchar for Newburyport Post 150 and Dan Avery for Milford Post 59. Home Team Milford Post 59 scored the first run in the bottom of the 4th as Kevin Martinis drove in Dan Mantoni. Newburyport responded in the 5th and took a 2-1 lead after Tyler Chaisson and Rossario Missitti hit RBI singles. The Post 150 lead did not last long as in the 6th Kevin Martinis hit a 2 RBI single to drive in Hillers Matt Decina and Andrew McMillan. Post 59 added extra security in the 7th as Matt Decina hit an RBI Double. Milford secured the 4-2 victory as David Sampson pitched a shutout in the last 3 innings and picked up his 2nd save of the season.
In the Regional Finals Milford continued to fire on all cylinders, Dan Mantoni got the start in game 1 (Aug 7th) against Pawtucket but gave up 4 runs in the 5th and 6th to give Pawtucket a 4-0 lead. Post 59 bats came alive in the 6th leading to runs scored by Dan Mantoni and Michael Ryan. 3 more runs were added in the 7th as Pawtucket starter Dan O' Brien struggled to hit his spots and with the bases loaded reliever Zach Mittsmen hit Joe White with a pitch to make it a 4-3 game, then gave up a 2 run single to Michael Ryan putting Post 59 on top 5-4. Andrew McMillan would pitch 2 shutout innings and David Sampson a shutout 9th to secure the game 1 victory.
In game 2 (Aug 8th) Milford bats were unstoppable as a 4 run 5th inning and a 6 run 7th inning propelled Post 59 past Bangor, Maine. 8 different players contributed with hits in the victory and it proved to be crucial as Milford would be able to save their pitchers from working an extra 2 innings. In Game 3 (Aug 9th) against RCP, CT Post 105, David Sampson got the start and despite being in relief for much of the season he went 8 innings giving up 3 runs on 7 hits which would be plenty as Milford put up 4 runs in the first 3 innings and added 1 more in the 7th inning for the 5-3 victory.
Lacking starting pitching due to inning regulations Milford would choose to rest some key players for game 4 (Aug 10th) against Middletown, CT. Since Milford was the only undefeated team left in the regionals, they secured a championship game birth and did not pursue game 4 too aggressively. Middletown took the game 16-6 in a 7 inning mercy. Milford had all their pitchers well rested and set to go for the championship game against either RCP or Middletown.
On championship day (Aug 11th) RCP took the victory over MIddletown 7-2, to secure a date with Milford at 7pm that night. Hopedale pitcher Dan Mantoni got the nod for the championship game against Rocky Hill, Cromwell, Portland Post 105 who sent Cole Orgozalek to the mound. Post 59 entered the 7th with a 4-1 lead but RCP put 3 runs up in the bottom of the 7th as Mantoni and reliever Dan Avery struggled to get an out. Alex Ramirez scored on a hit, Logan Lessard scored as Brendan Sullivan was hit by a pitch with bases loaded and then Joe Zawisa scored on a wild pitch to tie the game at 4. In the bottom of the 9th Tom Seaver drove in Christian Budzik with a single to right field and RCP walked off with the 5-4 victory and punched a ticket to the World Series in Shelby, North Carolina.
Despite the hard to swallow loss in the regional championship game, it was an unforgettable run by Post 59 as after they were 7 and 7 through the first 14 games, Post 59 went on a 20 and 4 run and finished as one of the top 16 Legion Teams in the country. Post 59 came together as a team and proved that great turnarounds are possible at any time. The 2014 season will forever be remembered by the Post 59 and Legion baseball fans and it was a run that will go down as one of the greatest in Legion Baseball history.
Congratulations on an unforgettable season full of tremendous accomplishments and memories Milford Post 59.