THE ROCHESTER Post 7 Legion team celebrates the state championship last week.
Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
July 31, 2017MANCHESTER — For the third year in a row and the fourth time in five years, the Rochester Post 7 Senior Legion baseball team won the state title.
And this year, the team took the easy route to the championship, going undefeated in the state tournament, finishing off with a 10-3 win over Sweeney Post on Wednesday, July 26.
Last year, Rochester had to work through the loser's bracket and had to win two games the day before the finals, a situation that Sweeney found itself in this year.
And with a group of tested veterans, coach Steve Lambert expected good things.
"A lot of these kids have been around so they don't fold under pressure," Lambert said. "They seem to come through when things get tough.
"And the last week, the gel has come together," the Rochester coach added. "Sweeney had a tough road to come back, I wouldn't want to be in that situation."
This year's Rochester team featured a trio of local players, with Kingswood graduate Will Treuel, rising Kingswood senior Brian Lindsay and rising Prospect Mountain senior Drew Nickerson all playing roles on the team.
Rochester, which won each previous tournament game by the 10-run rule, sent Shaun Cormier to the hill and though he surrendered a hit in the first inning, worked around it and Rochester got on the board in the bottom of the first.
Rick Creteau led off with a base hit, took second on a wild pitch and then went to third on a fly ball to right by Keagan Calero. One out later, a wild pitch plated Creteau with the first run of the game. Logan LaRochelle was hit by a pitch to continue the inning, but he was stranded.
Cormier allowed a one-out hit and then hit a batter in the top of the second inning, but he worked around it by getting a pair of grounders to shortstop.
Rochester added a run in the bottom of the second, with Nickerson scoring the run. The Prospect senior led off by reaching on an error and then Brady Ashley reached on a bunt and Lindsay had a grounder to first that moved both runners up. Jordan Gosselin then grounded to second to plate Nickerson for a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the third inning, Cormier surrendered a two-out hit but got three grounders on the infield to keep Sweeney off the board.
Calero led off the bottom of the third with a walk and then Christian Dow reached on an error and LaRochelle worked a walk to load the bases. Jayson Cleveland then delivered a base hit to plate two runs and after Nickerson was hit by a pitch and then a Lindsay double drove in two more runs and Rochester led 6-0.
Cormier set Sweeney down in order in the top of the fourth and Rochester added another run in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Calero worked a walk, stole second and took third on a wild pitch. LaRochelle worked a walk and then on a pickoff attempt at first, Calero stole home to make it 7-0.
Sweeney had a two-out double in the top of the fifth inning but Cormier worked around that. Nickerson led off the bottom of the inning with a base hit and took second on an error. He took third on a groundout by Ashley and scored on a sacrifice fly by Lindsay to make it 8-0.
Sweeney was able to capitalize on an error and a double to plate their first run but Rochester added two more in the bottom of the inning. Creteau led off with a base hit and Calero worked another walk. Dow then reached on an error and two more runs scored for a 10-1 lead.
Cormier worked around a base hit in the top of the seventh and Ashley led off with a base hit in the bottom of the inning, but Rochester could not score.
Sweeney was able to score two more in the top of the eighth inning, taking advantage of a hit, an error, a hit batter and two sacrifice flies.
Calero led off with a base hit to open the bottom of the inning but he was picked off first. Base hits from LaRochelle, Treuel and Nickerson loaded the bases but they were all stranded.
Comeau came out for the ninth and after the first batter reached on an error, a nice play from Comeau and Calero at shortstop picked him off second and Rochester was able to celebrate the 10-3 win.
Lambert noted that he thought this year's team was stronger in many ways than the team that won last year.
"Station to station, we're a better team," he noted. "Our pitching is better this year, deeper, but you still have to have some luck."
Last year the team was two outs away from the regional finals last year and Lambert said the team knows what it is up against.
As for the local connections, Lambert said all three were key contributors.
"They all played a key part," Lambert said of Treuel, Nickerson and Lindsay.
"Will came to us and he's come in and throws hard for four or five innings," Lambert said, noting he had been hoping to have him on the team the past few years, but he was limited. Treuel picked up the win in the second game of the tournament for Rochester.
"Brian has been a great addition behind the plate," Lambert continued, praising his throwing arm.
"And Drew is a diamond in the rough," Lambert said, noting he saw him play for PMHS this past season. "I fell in love with the kid in high school. He'll play any position. He'll warm up the right fielder if that's what you want him to do."
The regional tournament got under way in Massachusetts after deadline on Aug. 2.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.