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Pettengill Insurance eliminated from Legion playoffs

  • South Hadley catcher Scott Bicknell, center, looks to the outfield after tagging out Ryan Tettemer of Westfield Tuesday in South Hadley.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    South Hadley catcher Scott Bicknell, center, looks to the outfield after tagging out Ryan Tettemer of Westfield Tuesday in South Hadley.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Connor Sheridan, right, of South Hadley, begins a throw to home as Timothy Donahue steals second Tuesday in South Hadley. Sheridan's throw stopped the Westfield runner from scoring.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Connor Sheridan, right, of South Hadley, begins a throw to home as Timothy Donahue steals second Tuesday in South Hadley. Sheridan's throw stopped the Westfield runner from scoring.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Endy Sanchez of South Hadley pitches to Westfield Tuesday in South Hadley.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Endy Sanchez of South Hadley pitches to Westfield Tuesday in South Hadley.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Joseph Ciolek of South Hadley connects for his second double against Westfield Tuesday in South Hadley. South Hadley lost 3-2 in eight innings.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Joseph Ciolek of South Hadley connects for his second double against Westfield Tuesday in South Hadley. South Hadley lost 3-2 in eight innings.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Samuel Blake of Westfield makes the catch and Dvon Cordero, front, of South Hadley can't make it to first on his hit Tuesday in South Hadley.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Samuel Blake of Westfield makes the catch and Dvon Cordero, front, of South Hadley can't make it to first on his hit Tuesday in South Hadley.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Michael Croke, right, of South Hadley, steps safely back to first as Liam Flaherty of Westfield takes the throw on a pick attempt Tuesday in South Hadley.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Michael Croke, right, of South Hadley, steps safely back to first as Liam Flaherty of Westfield takes the throw on a pick attempt Tuesday in South Hadley.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • South Hadley catcher Scott Bicknell, center, looks to the outfield after tagging out Ryan Tettemer of Westfield Tuesday in South Hadley.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Connor Sheridan, right, of South Hadley, begins a throw to home as Timothy Donahue steals second Tuesday in South Hadley. Sheridan's throw stopped the Westfield runner from scoring.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Endy Sanchez of South Hadley pitches to Westfield Tuesday in South Hadley.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Joseph Ciolek of South Hadley connects for his second double against Westfield Tuesday in South Hadley. South Hadley lost 3-2 in eight innings.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Samuel Blake of Westfield makes the catch and Dvon Cordero, front, of South Hadley can't make it to first on his hit Tuesday in South Hadley.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Michael Croke, right, of South Hadley, steps safely back to first as Liam Flaherty of Westfield takes the throw on a pick attempt Tuesday in South Hadley.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

South Hadley had five men come to the plate with the go-ahead run in scoring position, but couldn’t capitalize once. Westfield went on to win game 2 of the Western District playoffs 3-2 in eight innings to sweep the best-of-3 series.

“I believe that was our eighth one-run loss,” O’Hara said. “We put ourselves in that situation by leaving guys on base and not getting the clutch hit. That bit us again in this one. Tough loss, especially in extra innings.”

Post 124 (16-6) advanced to the state sectional playoffs. Pettengill saw its season come to an end at 13-10.

“It’s tough this time of year getting guys to the game, but everyone who came to the playoffs definitely wanted to win,” right fielder Mike Croke said. “This team has good players and we played our hardest. Just couldn’t get that key hit. That’s how baseball goes.”

All of Pettengill’s six hits came from the bottom half of the lineup. Croke, Joe Ciolek and Nate Flachs had two apiece.

“Those guys have been coming up huge lately,” O’Hara said. “Joe hit the ball great the last five games and has been a real sparkplug.”

Croke went 4-for-5 in the series and drove in three runs. Ciolek also had four hits, including three doubles, with two runs scored and an RBI.

Pettengill rallied with a pair in the last of the fifth to tie the game. Ciolek led off with his second double of the game.

Nate Flachs then dropped a bloop hit just past the reach of second baseman Ashton Kennedy. Ciolek had to hold at first, then took off for third when the ball dropped. The wild throw went out of play past third base to allow Ciolek to score.

Croke followed by lining a single to left off Westfield lefthanded starter Kenny McLean as Flachs came in to tie.

“I didn’t see too many lefties this year in college, so it was a good challenge for me,” Croke said. McLean “had a good fastball and curve. He threw strikes for the most part, so I just tried to put a good swing on it through the middle.”

A wild pitch moved Croke to second with nobody out, but McLean induced three consecutive groundouts to keep it 2-2.

Flachs singled and stole second in the bottom of the seventh to put the winning run in scoring position with one down. Croke grounded to third, then reliever Matt Plasse fanned Sanchez to squash the threat.

For the second night in a row, Plasse was perfect in earning the win. After retiring all 10 batters he faced on Monday, Plasse came on with one out in the bottom of the seventh and set down five in a row.

“Plasse had great stuff again and shut us down again,” O’Hara said. “That’s what good pitchers do. Westfield has a great all-around team, and advancing in this tournament is a very difficult thing to do. The better team won.”

McLean gave up one earned run on six hits in a no decision. He struck out four without a walk.

Pettengill starter Endy Sanchez allowed only two earned runs on five hits with seven strikeouts. He did walk eight in seven-plus innings, which drove his pitch count over 140.

“Endy has been fantastic all season,” Croke said. “He struggled a bit with his control (Tuesday), but most games he pitched well enough to throw shutouts. We had a couple defensive miscues which hurt us.”

“Their starter did a nice job, and Endy kept us right in it,” O’Hara said. “He was in some trouble early but escaped with one run each time. That gave us a boost and gave us a chance to manufacture some runs.”

Rob Sullivan singled to lead off the top of the eighth, then Ryan Tettemer walked to conclude Sanchez’ outing.

With Pat Sears taking over on the hill, Connor Sas moved both runners up with a sacrifice bunt to set up Chris Riga’s run-scoring single to right. Croke threw Tettemer out at the plate on a disputed call.

Westfield put up single runs in the first two innings of Sanchez. Sam Blake reached on an error in the first and came in on a hit by Tim Donahue. Tettemer led off the second with a single and crossed on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Murphy.

“Any time a season starts the goal is to make the playoffs,” O’Hara said. “Once you get there, you feel you have a shot to win. We lost some guys to injury and sickness, so overall it was a good showing.”

The Legion season was a reunion for many members of the South Hadley 2012 state Division 2 championship team.

“Most of these guys I’ve played with for years, and it’s awesome to get another chance this summer,” Croke said. “It’s disappointing to come up short, but it’s still a lot of fun.”

Michael Wilkinson can be reached at mwilkinson@gazettenet.com.

American Legion

Western District Playoffs (Game 2)

Westfield 3, Pettengill Insur. 2 (8)

Westfield 110 000 01—3 7 1

Pettengill 000 020 00—2 6 1

WP - Plasse; LP - Sanchez

Records: Westfield (16-6); Pettengill (13-10)

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