Sabers rough up Spartans
AMHERST – The Souhegan baseball team finished the regular season strong, winning nine of its final 11 games. In Division II, that was only good enough for the fifth seed, but the Sabers proved on Thursday afternoon why they shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The Sabers scored four runs before recording an out in the first inning, cruising to a five-inning, opening-round victory over No. 12 Milford, 10-0.
The Sabers’ offense was relentless in the opening frame, sending ten batters to the plate. The team didn’t hold back after taking a 5-0 lead, plating two more runs in the second on a Max Benevides single to left field.
“Today we came out and we played solid in every aspect of the game,” Souhegan coach Bill Dod said. “We ran the bases well, we hit well, we fielded well, we pitched well. The kids deserve all the credit in the world. Milford is a pesky team. They’re a really tough, hard-nosed, blue-collar team, and they’ve had a great season. So I’m pleased that my kids were able to move on.”
While the Sabers jumped on Milford (6-11) starter Sawyer Trask early, the Spartans’ woes couldn’t be entirely attributed to the senior. Trask allowed two hits, a walk and a hit batsman in the first, but his defense was responsible for two errors, three passed balls and a dropped third strike.
“I think the common theme was disappointment in the way we played, the way we started, and the way we didn’t make plays that we should have made,” Milford coach Steve Claire said. “That’s our initial reaction as a team, that we were all expecting to play better and we didn’t. I think we prepared well the last three days, we had some good practices.
“We worked on everything we needed to work on, and I think the reason for the loss is simple: we didn’t execute. It’s as simple as that.”
Mike Mancini and Owen Batchelder each knocked in a run in the third inning, and Souhegan ended the game on a Mancini RBI single in the fifth as the 10-run mercy rule kicked in.
Mancini finished the game with three hits, three RBIs and a pair of runs scored.
Benevides also added three RBIs, while Batchelder contributed two RBIs and two runs scored. Bryce Walker, Mike Pellitteri, Devyn Pioli and Logan Chaput each compiled hits for Milford.
While the Sabers offense was certainly impressive, Souhegan starter Joe Grassett may have outshined his teammates.
The submarine pitcher allowed only four hits and a walk over five innings of work, striking out two.
“The early lead helped a little bit,” Grassett said. “You try to have the same mindset, whether you’re up or you’re down. You just try to keep them at nothing. I just wanted to throw strikes. My defense is great, so it doesn’t matter if it gets put in play, they’re behind me always.”
“Joey did a great job,” Dod added. “He is the face of the team today. He comes to the ballpark everyday and he has a smile on and he enjoys baseball. He’s just an example of the 17 kids that are on this team. They’re all the same.”
“They all love coming here, they love playing baseball, and they have a great relationship with one another.”