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American Legion Baseball: Eden Post 880 wins three in a row to repeat as division champs

Kyle Sherman sizes up a pitch in a game earlier this season. The North Collins native has been part of two straight division champion Eden Post 880 summer teams. (Photo by Michael J. Petro)
It took two losses in a five-day span to serve as a bit of a wake-up call to the Eden Post 880 American Legion baseball team. And did the Eden-based squad ever get itself back on track afterward.

Post 880 pulled it together to finish off a second straight enormous regular season, finishing 15-2-1 and again winning the South Division of the Western New York American Legion District 8 19-and-under league.

Eden finished off the season, avenging one of its two losses in a double-header sweep of Orchard Park, 13-1 in Game One and 19-9 in the second contest, on Saturday (July 13) and then won the division clincher beating Hamburg Post 527 14-4 two days later on Monday in a game continued from last week after it was postponed due to lightning.

The 2013 summer campaign for the team with players from Eden, as well as North Collins, Lake Shore, Springville, Gowanda and Silver Creek, follows advancing to last year’s district finals after a 17-1 regular season. Eden started this summer 10-0 and won both games with West Seneca, which finished tied for first place, to earn the tiebreaker.

“A couple of losses there opened our eyes a little,” Post 880 head coach Gordy Karstedt said. “We had so many comeback wins the past two seasons, but you’re not always going to be able to comeback. Those losses helped us learn.”

Eden also clinched the overall best record for a second straight season. The eight qualifying playoff teams will be split into two brackets for the postseason double-elimination tournament which starts Saturday (July 20). Post 880 takes on the North’s fourth-seed Depew starting 11 a.m. in the first of two games that day at Centennial Park in West Seneca.

“We’re pretty psyched,” Karstedt noted.

In the win over Hamburg, Ryan Boutelle of Gowanda finished with three hits, four RBI and two runs scored, while Brian Losel of Eden also had three hits. Aiding the Post 880 offense were Kyle Sherman of North Collins with two hits, including a double, and three runs and two hits each from Nick Iskara of Silver Creek and winning pitcher Kyle Crotty of Springville.

Hamburg’s offense was led by Matt Deleo, who delivered a three-run bases-clearing double.

In the opener against O.P., David Baskerville of Eden doubled twice and tripled while scoring three runs in the win. Teammates Dan Karstedt of Eden and Drew Scharra of Springville homered and tripled, respectively, in two-hit performances. Also with two hits for Post 880 were Boutelle, Iskara and Ty Conklin of Springville. Eden’s Carson Gill picked up the win on the mound, throwing a four-hitter with four strikeouts.

In Game Two against the South Division’s third-place team, Baskerville finished with four hits and five runs, while Brad Palmerton of Eden notched two hits and four runs. Aiding the cause were Karstedt with four hits, including a pair of doubles and a triple, and Sherman adding two hits.

Eden had lost 5-1 to O.P. on July 8, five days after falling for the first time this summer, 8-5 to Falconer. In between, Eden swept a high-scoring doubleheader over Jaworski’s on July 5.

Despite finishing 2-0 this year against West Seneca, Karstedt believes its rival at the top of the league the past two seasons may be the strongest of the squads in the entire league. He said his team was a bit fortunate that it will be on the opposite side of the bracket as West Seneca come this weekend.

Post 880 also may be on the opposite side of the bracket from last year’s district champion Jurek, which finished in third place in the North Division. The top spot from the North was to be determined in a game between front-runner McKeever and second-place Lamm on July 17.

Unfortunately for Post 880, it will be forced to play in the postseason without one of its leaders, Todd Gardner, a 2012 graduate of Eden, who hurt his wrist in a freak accident at work.

Jaworski’s (7-9), which consists mostly of players from Hamburg, Frontier and Lake Shore schools, still had a shot to capture the fourth and final playoff spot from the South after a third straight win, beating Allegany 6-5 on July 15. It trailed Falconer by one point as each team had one game remaining in the regular season. Jaworski’s played Lancaster and Falconer took on Allegany on July 17.

If Jaworski’s advances to the playoffs it would play the North’s top seed Saturday starting noon at the University of Buffalo. The other first-round game to be played Saturday will be 2 p.m. at Veteran’s Park in Tonawanda. The tournament continues Sunday and Monday (July 21-22) and if necessary on July 24 before the best-of-three district finals Friday and Saturday (July 26-27) at Orchard Park.

This year’s district champion will advance to the state tournament July 31 to Aug. 4 in Utica. The winner of that will move on to the Mid-Atlantic regional tournament in New Jersey the following week for a shot at the ALB World Series in Shelby, N.C.
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