Justin LaRosa of Hamburg drove in a run in Eden’s win over OP July 17. Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes.
Coming into the summer, Eden Post 880 American Legion baseball team were the defending champion of the South Division. Although Eden was unable to capture the division crown for a second season in a row, the local ball club have much bigger plans for the postseason.
West Seneca Post 735 won the division this summer as Eden Post finished fourth, capturing the No. 4 seed in the postseason and needing to win a play-in game to strive for a playoff run.
After posting an 11-7 record in the regular season, Eden defeated the North Division champion, Depew Legion Post 1528, 5-4 in extra innings at the Northtowns Center on July 19 before beating Jurek Post 1672 on the following day to improve to 3-0 in the postseason, including two victories during double elimination play.
The streak began when Eden hosted fifth-seeded Orchard Park Legion Post 567 at St. Francis High School on July 17, falling behind early before winning a 16-6 decision after six innings due to the 10-run mercy rule behind a melee at the plate for much of Eden’s batting order, which included a 1.000 day for David Baskerville.
“After the first inning, [Orchard Park] came out and scored two runs and we knew right off the bat that we had to come through with our bats,” said Baskerville, who just finished his junior year at Eden High School and will be on the ice for the Junior Sabres 20-under team in August.
“After that, we just kept it up.”
Down 2-0 in the first inning after Orchard Park scored on hits from Ryan Partridge and Kevin Koziol, Baskerville batted third and sent a two-run home run over the right centerfield fence, scoring Gowanda’s Ryan Boutelle to tie up the ball game.
Baskerville would finish the game 4-for-4 at the plate, which includes his first inning homer and a pair of doubles with six RBI. He also scored three times and stole a base.
Every player in the top nine for Eden either scored or drove in a run in the victory.
“I think from the beginning of the game everyone was focused right away,” Baskerville noted. “When we came out, no one was really talking too much. No one was goofing around.”
Drew Scharra picked up the victory on the mound for Eden Post, throwing three strikeouts while pitching all six innings to help his squad advance. He also worked a walked and scored a run on offense.
“Right from the first inning we knew it was going to be a battle of the bats. They’re a great team,” said Scharra, who plays his school ball at Springville. “They’re a great hitting team. Their top of the order, anywhere you put it in the strike zone their going to hit it.”
Jake Schlegel of Eden High School went 3-for-4 with an RBI and run scored for the victors. Kyle Sickau of Hamburg High School was 2-for-3 at the plate, getting hit by a pitch and scoring twice, while Drew Palmerton of Eden had the other multiple hit game for his Post team, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Brad Palmerton, a recent Eden High School graduate, added a hit, worked two walks and scored thrice. Boutelle also scored three times. He was walked three times, as well.
Silver Creek’s Nick Iskra tallied a hit, a run and two walks while Hamburg’s Justin LaRosa scored a run and drove in another with a sacrifice fly.
Hamburg High School’s Brian Bermingham rounded out Eden Post’s play-in game victory with an RBI-double in the sixth inning.
“I just think we swung the bats a lot better,” Schlegel said about the win. “Some of our bats have been dead this season, but we turned it up for this game.”
Shane Stewart singled Tyler Heath home in the second and Partridge scored Mike Bruno to give Orchard Park a 4-2 lead mid-third, but Eden Post tacked on three at the bottom to take an advantage it would never give up for the remainder of the contest, scoring its final 14 runs in the final four innings before the 10-run mercy rule ended the game after six innings.