BEACON FALLS — The Prospect-Beacon Falls American Legion Posts 194-25 baseball team packed the bat bag for the final time this season Tuesday at Woodland, but not before reflecting on how far it came in such a short period of time.
Phrases are loosely thrown around with young teams entering unchartered waters — you need to walk before you run; you need to go through the growing pains — but whatever it was that Posts 194-25 had to overcome as the new kids on the block playing American Legion baseball with a fist full of youngsters, PBF certainly turned a few heads in the process.
“These kids and this coaching staff put a lot of work into this season,” head coach Don Ensero said. “Two seasons ago we were just trying to put a team out there. To see them progress to this point where they can be competitive is very rewarding. They are ready to take it to the next level and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Next season we will have our own home field with the new diamond at Hotchkiss Park.”
On Tuesday PBF fell to Oxford by a 5-2 margin, but like in most of the games played in the July portion of the schedule Posts 194-25 was one hit, one play and one pitch away from sending this one into the win column.
Matt Spofford turned in a gutsy performance, scattering 10 hits on a night when temperatures approached triple digits. Spofford worked the count in his favor, walked just one batter and utilized a knee-buckling curveball to work out of jams.
“I know our record doesn’t show it but we have come a long way as a team this season,” Spofford said. “I think the key was keeping the nucleus that was formed last year and adding a few more players. We began to give teams a run for their money. We are a lot more confident and we have a very good future to look forward to.”
Oxford got a runner to third with one out in the first when Kyle Soisson made a huge defensive stop at third to prevent the run. Post 174 did manage single runs in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings to take a 4-0 lead.
PBF got singles from Mike Tuohy and Matt Butterworth only to have Oxford pitcher Dillon McMahon end the threat.
In the fifth inning Posts 194-25 began to bang on the door. Ryan Flanagan opened things with a single and Robert Stach reached on an infield hit deep in the hole at shortstop.
Mike Framski had a solid at-bat, working a walk on a full count to load the bases with no outs. Kevin Gabianelli and Butterworth chased home runs on balls hit in the infield. Nate Clarke drove one to the deepest part of the park in center field that was tracked down to end the uprising.
But PBF was back in the game, trailing 4-2. The defense went to work to back up Spoffoard on the hill. Flanagan made an all-out stretch at first base with his face in the dirt and held on for the out. It was that kind of effort over the second half that transformed this team into competitors.
Posts 194-25 couldn’t get the offense going again and Oxford tacked on another run in the seventh for the 5-2 final margin.
“I just can’t say enough about the all-out effort that these kids have brought to very game this season,” general manager Jeff Clarke said. “We have developed a solid pitching staff with Spofford, Matt Wysocki, Anthony D’Agnone and Nate.”
“The defense has been making the plays and if we can string together a little bit of offense we are going to come back next year and possibly contend for a tournament spot,” Clarke added. “We will have a new home field and new uniforms. We will still have some games scheduled for Woodland but we are all looking forward to watching this team continue to develop and take it to the next level.”