Legion baseball: Greenfield Post 81 scores eight runs in the seventh to knock off Northampton

Visar Kryeziu

By GARRETT COTE

Published: 06-28-2024 9:06 PM

NORTHAMPTON — After the Northampton Post 28 Senior American Legion baseball team scraped a run across in the bottom of the sixth inning to cut its deficit to 4-1, Greenfield Post 81 didn’t let them get any closer – putting to rest any bid at a comeback.

A ground out started Post 81’s top of the seventh, but the next eight players reached safely – each of them coming across to score. Dan Bussard (double), Sam Connors (single), Braedan Tsipenyuk (single) and Jackson Campbell (single) each drove in runs with hits to propel the eight-run frame that stamped Greenfield’s 12-1 win over Northampton at Arcanum Field on Friday evening.

“The game was a lot closer than that,” Post 81 head coach Alex Siano said. “They have some really good players over there, they have good pitching, but we got some hits in the end and pulled away.”

Northampton (4-3) has since dropped its last three contests – excluding a game in which Post 28 was up 8-0 against Monson in the first inning but didn’t get to finish due to weather.

Head coach Adam Krol knows it’s normal for teams to take their lumps throughout the course of a season, and would rather Post 28 experience theirs now than later.

“Losing and failure is a much better teacher than winning is, as hard as that is to swallow,” Krol said. “Our guys played hard to the end, that’s who they are, but sometimes it doesn’t go your way. That’s life. We’re out here trying to create not just good ball players, but good human beings as well. This is one of those growth times. It’s a long season, and we’ll bounce back from this.”

The first five innings of the game were dominated by Post 81 pitcher Hugh Cyhowski, as the hard-throwing righty flew through the Northampton lineup en route to 10 strikeouts while surrendering just two hits.

Post 28 got to him in the sixth when Aiden Keeling-Lococo walked, stole two bases and scored on a ground ball to short. Cyhowski was pulled after 5 2/3 innings of work – a strong performance on the bump.

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“He did a great job today,” Siano said of Cyhowski. “Hugh is a very solid guy, a great leader on the team and when he’s on, he’s really tough. He’s going to UMass Boston in the fall, and they’re really lucky to have him. I love having him, and I feel like any time he’s on the mound, we’ve got a shot.”

Tsipenyuk started the scoring for Post 81 in the first inning, coming around to plate one of his three runs on the day after he reached on an infield single (one of his three hits). Greenfield tacked on three more in the second, as Connors (single) and Tsipenyuk (single) were driven in by a Campbell two-run double down the first-base line. Two batters later, Ethan Mauthe knocked in Campbell to make it 4-0 Post 81 after two innings.

Navigating through the rest of the contest from ahead helped Greenfield play loose and free.

“It made us play a little more relaxed,” Siano said of the early advantage. “They scored that run and it was 4-1, and we were an error or two away from a different game. But it’s nice playing from ahead. Baseball is a game of inches, and it just changes on a dime. When [Griffin] Smiarowski was on the mound, it was a great game. I think they just ran out of steam.”

Smiarowski got the start on the mound for Post 28, and after giving up those early runs, he settled into a groove. He tossed the next three innings scoreless, and struck out the side in the fifth to cap off his outing.

Northampton had plenty of opportunities to get back in the game if it weren’t for Cyhowski dealing on the other side.

“He’s a leader and he’s a veteran for us,” Krol said of Smiarowski. “He’s been there before and it shows. You’re gonna trip and stumble sometimes, but he righted the ship at the right time and kept us in that game. That’s what a leader does.”

Aiden Zera and Asher Garretson split relief duties for Post 28, with Zera pitching a clean sixth inning before Garretson came in to spell him in the seventh to retire two batters including a strikeout.

Post 81 gave the ball to Connors to close things out for Cyhowski, and he pitched 1 1/3 stellar innings, fanning four of the six Post 28 batters he faced.

Northampton Post 28 starts a four-game week on Monday at 5:45 p.m. against Easthampton Post 224 back at Arcanum Field.

Greenfield Post 81 (3-2) hosts West Springfield Post 207 on Sunday evening at 5:45 p.m. at Veterans Field.