Senior Legion falls short of playoffs
Published 1:02 am, Wednesday, July 21, 2010
The clock struck midnight for the Westport Senior American Legion team on Saturday.
After winning five of six of its last games to get a shot at the playoffs, Westport's season came to a close when it lost a doubleheader at Trumbull, 8-2 and 5-3, to end its season at 13-14. Trumbull Post 141 raised its overall record to 24-12, 17-10 in Zone 4.
"We made a great run," Westport Coach Glenn Katz said. "It's sad when a season ends, whether you win a championship or miss the playoffs because you become a family with the team. Trumbull just scored more runs than us today."
Post 141 scored four runs in the second off righty Austin Mills and four runs in the sixth off of righty Mitch Gilbertie.
"They pitched well but Trumbull hit so many singles," Katz said.
In the second game, righty Eric Sawyer pitched for Westport and was strong through the first five innings.
"Sawyer pitched well and got better in every start," Katz said.
Westport scored two runs in the fourth. Following a walk, McCarty singled and Rustemeyer and Mike McGowan followed with RBI singles. In the top of the sixth, Ben Lipper singled to load the bases and Jimmy Sikorski hit an RBI single to give Westport a 3-2 lead. However, Trumbull scored three in the bottom of the sixth to take a 5-3 lead and eventually, a sweep of the doubleheader.
Sawyer, a reserve on varsity last spring, who will be a senior at Staples this fall, solidified his chances of becoming the No. 2 pitcher behind lefty Rob Gau.
"If he works at it, he can become the No. 2 pitcher," Jimmy Sikorski said.
"Trumbull had two big innings in the first game and we were in a hole and it was tough to get back into the game," Sikorski said.
Lipper said, "They just played better than us today. Trumbull has great pitching."
Ace lefty David Speer gave Westport a chance to make the playoffs by tossing a complete game, eight-inning, 1-0 shutout at home over Trumbull on Thursday. Speer allowed only two hits, struck out 10 and walked none. He handled the pressure well in that Westport had no hits through the first seven innings.
"I just had a good fastball and I challenged them," Speer said. "I didn't think about the pressure and I pitched my own game."
McCarthy broke up the no-hitter in the eighth with a single. Speer followed with a single and after Sawyer reached on a fielder's choice, McGowan hit the game-winning single.
"We played with a tremendous amount of heart," Katz said. "The second half of the season was a positive upward climb with momentum building towards this weekend, giving us a chance to make the playoffs. Our entire roster walked away with their heads held high."
Brendan Bernstein said, "It was a tough end of the season but we battled back and showed heart after a rough start."
Bernstein and Lipper will represent Westport in the All-Star game on July 31.
For most of the first half of the season, Westport was three games under .500.
"I think we played great toward the end of the year and we had a shot to make the playoffs," Sikorski said.
Speer said, "It's amazing we had a chance after a tough first half. It was tough to lose but we had a nice run."
Working against Westport was the fact it had no college kids (Trumbull had two and most of the teams had at least one). Westport was also missing Jack Hennessy, Grant Moss, Tyler Jacobs and Gau, who made their presence felt for Staples. However, the Wreckers will be better off because McGowan, Mike Scott and Sawyer, who were backups last year, gained experience, and Gandolfo and Matt Reynolds, who played on JV last year, will be prepared for varsity.
"The rising incoming juniors and seniors benefitted and it will pay dividends next spring," Lipper said.
Bernstein said, "We improved from last year's legion team and the younger kids gained experience for the high school season."