Post 23 blanked by Post 7
NASHUA – The mood was upbeat in the visitor’s dugout following Milford Post 23’s 2-0 loss to Rochester Post 7 Friday at Holman Stadium – a surprise given the frustrating nature of the situation.
Playing in its first postseason game this century, Milford had plenty of opportunities to take the opener of the double-elimination American Legion tournament, but failed to collect the timely hits necessary to score off top-seeded Rochester’s Joshua Gagne, who dominated his way to a complete game.
Yet Post 23 remained positive. Rather than be upset with the outcome, catcher C.J. Bilodeau highlighted the things Milford did well as reasons for encouragement as it faces elimination Sunday morning against the loser between Londonderry and Bedford.
"I thought we played the best game of our season," said Bilodeau, who went 2 for 4 and reached on an error. "We outhit them, had no errors, great at-bats. Timely hits just weren’t there today. That’s what hurt us the most."
Post 23 also got everything it could out of pitcher Ryan Britton. The lefty allowed two runs on five hits, four walks and four strikeouts.
Milford pressured Gagne in multiple situations, totaling seven hits and 10 base runners. But it stranded all 10 of those runners, went 0 for 8 with men in scoring position and was struck out 13 times by right-hander.
"We haven’t had a great year scoring runs anyway," Post 23 coach Frank Douglass said. "We’ve won a lot of low-scoring games."
Douglass called Gagne the best pitcher his team has seen all season.
"When he had runners on, he came right at our bottom of the order and made the top of the orders hit his pitch," he said of Gagne. "We had a tough time barreling up when it counted."
Rochester struck first with two outs in the first inning. Anthony DiPrizio ripped a double to the left-field wall. Justin Jewell scored him with a single to right.
Milford nearly responded in the top of the second as Bilodeau reached on an error and Ryan Aho doubled deep to right-center. But Gagne struck out the next three batters to keep Post 7’s lead at 1-0.
Britton held Rochester hitless through the next four innings, surrendering just a pair of walks in the second through fifth. Bilodeau said Britton was especially strong with his off-speed pitches despite throwing at a lower velocity throughout the game.
"I thought Ryan had a heck of a game," Bilodeau said. "He did his job. He got ground balls, he got pop ups."
Post 7 finally got another hit in the sixth, and it led to its second run.
With one out, Jewell ended Britton’s run with a base hit. Gagne advanced the right fielder with a hard grounder that deflected off the glove of Britton and toward first base. Mac Struthers singled to left to score Jewell and make it 2-0 before being thrown out trying to advance to second.
Post 23 put a pair of runners on with one out in the eighth off singles by Ben Osterholtz and Bilodeau, but once again couldn’t score on Gagne. Aho struck out swinging and Max Benevides fouled out to the catcher.