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American Legion Baseball: Eden Post 880’s unbeaten start aided by loaded roster

North Collins’ Trey Bley delivered a victory on the mound during a four-win weekend for Eden Post 880. Bley is one of 18 players from five different school districts on the 8-0 squad. (Photo courtesy of David Eckhardt)
Five schools’ players help Eden to 8-0 mark, latest win over Jaworksi's

When Gordy Karstedt recruits and chooses his players for Eden’s American Legion 19-and-under team, he doesn’t do it solely on ability. He’s also recruiting character and attitude and looking for an unselfish player whose first priority is the team.

Those attributes couldn’t be more important to a team than this season with Eden Post 880’s Newell-Faulkner maintaining a large roster of 18 players combining the talents of six different school districts. Post 880 also features 13 returning players from last season, among them five who are competing in the sport at the college level. The team’s based in the Eden and North Collins School Districts, but there are also players sprinkled in from Lake Shore, Springville, Frontier and Gowanda High Schools.

Karstedt acknowledged as the team’s head coach it’s not an easy task to fill out a lineup card each game and try to find playing time for everyone among this talented group, but he believes the players understand the dilemma and just enjoy being part of the team. That, and Eden’s 8-0 record may be why they keep showing up.

Eden has experienced little problem with turnout as most of the 18 have been present throughout a season that started in early June, but just recently got very busy with five games in three days starting with the first of two weekend doubleheaders on June 16. The team’s latest win, 6-5 over Jaworski’s on Monday (June 18) at Eden, was its third come-from-behind victory and second in walk-off fashion.

“The team’s been resilient so far and has shown great attitudes. They really seem to enjoy themselves, which is what it’s all about,” Karstedt said. “The camaraderie is fantastic. They were all made to feel part of this team right at the start. The turnout is also amazing. Even when our pitchers know they have no chance to play, they’ve come to be a part of it.”

In Monday’s win, Eden senior Dan Karstedt delivered a two-out, game-winning RBI-single in the seventh, scoring North Collins senior Kyle Sherman. Karstedt finished with two hits and two RBI and Sherman scored twice. Post 880 had tied the score at six apiece on Eden senior Todd Gardner’s ground out, plating Springville’s Matt Wolcott, who started the rally with a one-out single.

Gardner gutted out the complete-game win, pitching four scoreless innings after Jaworski’s took a 5-1 lead after three. Eden scored three in the fourth to cut Jaworski’s lead to 5-4. Adding to Post 880’s offense were Eden freshman Dave Baskerville, who notched two hits, and Lake Shore junior Christ Conley, who knocked home a run on a double.

Post 880 beat Fredonia 8-1 and 11-0 in a doubleheader sweep the day prior. In Game 1, Springville’s Drew Scharra threw a five-hitter, striking out six, and Karstedt, Gardner and Gowanda’s Ryan Boutelle each recorded two hits. In the next game, North Collins senior sidewinder Trey Bley threw five scoreless innings of three-hit ball, which included seven strikeouts, while Frontier senior Mac Zeis led the offense with three hits. ECC freshman Vinnie Sherman added two hits and Eden graduate Derek Palmerton notched a three-run single.

On June 16, Mohawk Valley Community College freshman Mitch Williams threw a two-hit shutout and Baskerville doubled home Gardner, who was 3 for 3 at the plate, for the only run to lead Eden to a 1-0 win in the first game against Allegheny. In winning the second game of the doubleheader, 11-7, Karstedt came through with a grand slam in the sixth to break a 7-7 tie and Gardner picked up the win in relief.

Fredonia State freshman Ben Senior, a Lake Shore High School graduate, delivered a win for the team on the mound in the opener, beating Jaworski’s, 6-2, and then Williams, a North Collins graduate, did the same in a 6-1 victory over Hamburg Post 527, which is based in St. Francis High School.

Gardner delivered a walk-off, two-run single, scoring Kyle Sherman and Wolcott in an 8-7 comeback victory over Orchard Park on June 13 to improve to 3-0. The two had pulled off a double steal to get into scoring position. Bley picked up the win in relief of Scharra, who will only be a junior next year at Springville.

The team’s unselfish nature could be noticed alone in how many players have shifted from their regular positions to accommodate others, as well as in an attempt to garner playing time.

Vinnie Sherman, a North Collins graduate, returned to his starting spot at shortstop, but his coach made mention that he’s one of four on the team who could potentially play the position. The coach’s son, Dan Karstedt, has played mostly third and Kyle Sherman has fit well at second. Regularly a catcher, Conley has been at first base and in the designated hitter spot so that his big bat can stay in the lineup, while Zeis, who’s usually a shortstop, has also played some at first. Baskerville and Boutelle have done most of the catching.

Gardner has played in center field when not pitching, while Lake Shore graduate Brian Barry, a freshman hurler at ECC, who’s pitching in another summer league, has played left field. The Palmerton brothers, Derek, and Brad, an Eden sophomore, have both moved from their natural positions in the infield to play outfield. Wolcott, a right fielder, has been a pleasant surprise, according to his coach.

Eden youngsters Carson Gill, a junior third baseman and pitcher, and Brian Losel, a sophomore first baseman and pitcher, have been very patient as first-year Legion players waiting to get their chance.

“The pitching has been solid and we’ve got a lot of it, but what I’m having the most trouble with is figuring out the lineup each game because it’s such a strong team,” said Karstedt, who’s being assisted by North Collins’ Robby Catalino and longtime Eden coach Bob Burnside.

Post 880 has had players from Springville before but not often. Karstedt is happy he received the call from a coach who worked with Wolcott and Scharra and suggested that he give them a look. The two, along with Boutelle, have also been welcome additions to the squad.

“It all worked out really well,” Karstedt said. “I watched them play and was impressed. I know there’s more coming down the pipeline as well in Springville. They’ve meshed very well with the kids from North Collins and Eden.”

Among Post 880’s returning players, Kardsedt is slated to play next year at Division II Mercyhurst, while Kyle Sherman will join his older brother, Vinnie, at ECC, and Bley will also be off to the junior college power to play for the Kats.

Jaworski’s falls to Eden in seventh, still optimistic about playoff hopes

Jaworski’s American Legion team came up an out short in the seventh inning of handing Eden’s Post its first loss of the season, but it gave head coach Walt Seres hope that his team can play with the best of the Western New York League’s South Division.

The team with its base of players from the Frontier and Hamburg School Districts ran out to a 5-1 lead after three innings, but Eden got to within one with a three-run fourth then won 6-5 in its second walk-off win during an 8-0 season.

“It’s a disappointing loss but we played better ball,” said Seres, whose team fell to 4-5. ‘That’s a good Eden team over there.”

Matt Brzozwiec, a Lake Shore junior, threw six-plus innings of quality ball but a potent Eden lineup finished off a third comeback this season with a two-out, RBI-single from Mercyhurst-bound Dan Karstedt, scoring Kyle Sherman, who represented the winning run.  Brzozwiec allowed seven hits, getting one out in the sixth before handing the ball to Frontier senior Connor Donahue, who faced three batters, getting one out, after starting the game at first base.

Jaworski’s scored four in the first, highlighted by Frontier senior Jacob Weiser’s two-RBI double and run scoring singles from Hamburg seniors Eric Simoncelli and Sam Hogan. The team sent 10 batters to the plate in the first but left the bases loaded.  Iroquois’ Johnny Karwick put Jaworski’s back up by four in the third with a RBI-infield single, scoring Weiser.

Leading an 11-hit attack for Jaworski’s with two each were Simoncelli, who also doubled, Frontier seniors Jacob Sawicki and Blair Lakso (double) and Brockport State College’s Andrew Nietzke.

As was the case during the regular season for Frontier, Seres said the St. Bonaventure-bound Lakso is leading the team at the plate and fellow senior Steve Dziak on the mound. Dziak finished 7-1 with Frontier in 2012. Last week, he pitched Jaworski’s past Hamburg, which has its base players at St. Francis High School.

Also contributing to this team are Lake Shore’s Dane Cala, a center fielder, Curtis Cala, a pitcher, and Austin Van Slycke, an outfielder. Frontier senior Jim Duggan and Medaille College’s Jim Zemla have aided Jaworski’s on the mound.

Seres still believes his team has a good chance to be one of four from the South Division to qualify for the playoffs. Jaworski’s has qualified the past two of three years under Seres. Last season’s South Division champion West Seneca was in second at 6-1 and Allegheny, third, at 4-3, as of Tuesday.

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