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American Legion Baseball: Post 880 one win away from district final

Mitch Williams tossed a complete game to propel Eden Post 880 to an opening round 5-1 victory over Brounschidel on July 14 in the Western New York District 8 playoffs. Eden won its next game two days later and is now just one win away from playing for the district title. (Photo courtesy of David Eckhardt)
The ability to come-from-behind this season has come in quite handy for Eden Post 880 in its first two playoff games.

The Eden American Legion 19-and-under team overcame a pair of early deficits to defeat Allegany 9-5 on Monday (July 16) and Brounschidle 5-1 two days earlier and put itself in prime position to play in the best-of-three championship series for the Western New York District 8 title.

Already having scored several walk-off victories during a 17-1 regular season, Post 880 did not falter even as it trailed early in both playoff games. Down 1-0 to Brounschidle, Eden scored three in the fifth and added two in the sixth to pull away, and then after being down 3-2 and tied 5-5 against Allegany, it struck for four runs in the fourth to remain unbeaten in the double-elimination tournament.

Post 880, the top seed from the South Division after winning the regular season title, is one of only two squads that have yet to lose among the eight-team field, which was broken into two brackets for the playoffs.

Eden had the opportunity to close out its side of the bracket Wednesday (July 18) at the Northtowns Center in Amherst playing against the winner of Tonawanda and Allegany, each of whom had one loss coming into their contest earlier that day. Even if Eden lost, it would still have a chance to advance to the district championship series with a win in a rematch of Wednesday’s game.

“We seem to always find new ways to come-from-behind,” said Eden head coach Gordy Karstedt, who was especially happy to see eight of nine hitters record at least one hit against Allegany. “Even in our four or five walk-off wins this year, it seems a different guy is doing it every time. It’s been a real spread out team effort.”

As part of a 13-hit attack, recent Eden High School graduate Todd Gardner provided the biggest blow for Post 880 with a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the fourth against Allegany. He finished with two hits, along with teammates Kyle Sherman of North Collins, Dan Karstedt of Eden, Mac Zeis of Frontier and Ryan Boutelle of Gowanda.

Brian Barry, a 2011 Lake Shore High School graduate, who just finished up his freshman season playing with ECC, scattered seven hits over a complete-game performance at Veteran’s Park in Tonawanda.

“We made a few mistakes but we battled through it,” Gordy Karstedt said. “Allegany is a very good team. That was the fourth time we’ve seen them this year and we could see them again.”

Eden got off to a winning start on Saturday, July 14 at Centennial Park in West Seneca by beating Brounschidle, the fourth seed from the North Division, whose team’s home base is St. Joe’s Collegiate Academy.

Barry delivered the tying- and go-ahead runs in the fifth with a double and Vinnie Sherman knocked in a run on one of his two hits. Kyle Sherman, a North Collins graduate like his older brother, Vinnie, added a two-run single in the sixth. This fall, Kyle will join his brother and Barry at the JUCO-power ECC.

Mitch Williams continued his strong pitching this season, throwing a five-hit, complete game, striking out four. Williams, also a North Collins graduate, comes off his freshman season as a hurler with Mohawk Valley Community College.

Allegany, the three seed from the South, and Tonawanda, the North’s two seed, each were 1-1 coming into Wednesday’s game. Brounschidle was eliminated July 15 with a second loss in as many days.

In the other district playoff bracket, Jaworski’s, the fourth seed from the South, whose home base is in the Frontier and Hamburg School Districts, fell in its first two games and was eliminated. Jurek, the North’s top seed, outlasted West Seneca, who finished second in the South, 2-1 in eight innings Monday to snag the upper hand as both were unbeaten at 2-0 coming into the game. Lamm, the third-place team from the North, was eliminated by the end of the weekend.

The top two teams remaining from the double-elimination playoff tournament will play a best-of-three series featuring nine inning games over the upcoming weekend for the district championship with the winner advancing to the State Tournament from July 31 to Aug. 5 in Utica.


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