Post 188 and Wareham Post 220 have been the best two teams in District 10’s junior division all season long, and on Thursday, July 25, they met with the league championship on the line. The four previous meetings had all been nail-biters, and once again it went to the wire with Sandwich scoring a come-from-behind 8-7 victory.
The first championship in the program’s history comes in just the second year of the team’s existence. The squad heads to play in the state championships in Wilbraham this weekend, boasting a 19-2 overall record. Both losses were to Wareham, once in the regular season and once in the playoffs.
After dominating the first half of the game, things began to unravel for Post 188 in the middle innings. Wareham scored two in the fourth to tie the game at 3-3, but Sandwich got the lead back on a Liam Howell RBI double to deep center. Wareham then struck back to score four in the fifth and looked ready to blow it wide open, but reliever Cam Bush got a key double play ball to end that inning and keep 188 within striking distance.
Throughout their fantastic season Post 188 has shown moxie when behind. That trend continued as they rallied to score four in the bottom of the fifth inning to reclaim the lead. With one down, Johnny Nunes doubled and Max McDonald singled to put runners on the corners. Sam Cavossa then ripped one down the third base line to score a run, making it a two-run game. The rally was then aided by a key error by the Wareham shortstop on a ball hit by Willie Baker that went under his glove and allowed another run to score. Then, later in the inning, with two down, Nico Gagnon launched a long hard double to center that hit off the center fielder’s glove. Two runs came in and 188 had the lead back.
From there Bush and Blake Martin each got an out, but combined to allow two base runners in the sixth. Colton Colleran then came on to get the last out of the inning and mowed down Wareham in the seventh to set off the celebration.
In a must-win spot on Wednesday, July 24, at Spillane Field in Wareham, the Post 188 junior team kept their shot at the District 10 championship alive by knocking off their rivals from Wareham, 6-3. It was the fourth time this year that the two teams have met, and second time in the postseason. And like every previous game it went to the wire.
Post 188 never trailed, but things did get hairy late in the contest. Up 4-0 in the top of the sixth, Wareham finally began to figure things out at the plate and strung together three straight hits to open the frame. The second seed in the tournament, which had won a 2-1 game in Falmouth against 188 earlier in the week, nearly scored on the third hit but center fielder Max McDonald sent a laser beam to the plate to Jared Barr, who applied the tag to get the first out of the inning.
Wareham kept coming, though. A fielder’s choice made it 4-1 and then a single to left plated Wareham’s second run. Another ground ball pulled Wareham to within one.
Head Coach Larry Shell went to the mound to discuss the situation with reliever Brady Campbell and whatever was said there seemed to matter. Campbell got back to work with renewed vigor and struck out the next batter to end the threat with his team still ahead, 4-3.
In the bottom of the inning, No. 3 hitter Sam Cavossa came up with a clutch knock to give the higher-seeded team some breathing room. The 188 third baseman came to the plate with Campbell at third after a leadoff single, and Johnny Nunes at second after a walk and a steal. With two strikes, Cavossa fouled off several pitches before smoking a line drive that fell in front of the diving left fielder. Both runners came in on the play to make it 6-3.
Wareham threatened in the seventh, but Campbell got out of trouble. A pair of one-out walks brought the tying run to the plate, but Campbell got a strikeout and a groundout to end the threat and the game, forcing a winner-take-all contest the next night.
In the losers’ bracket final, Post 188 earned its way into the finals with a solid 5-2 bounce back victory at Mass Maritime Academy against Duxbury. A quick start to the game propelled 188 as they wasted no time getting their bats working, scoring two in the first and one in the third and fourth innings.
Nico Gagnon gave the club four strong innings of work, and Johnny Nunes got the team to the finish line and preserved the victory.
In the bottom of the first, Post 188 did its damage with two outs, thanks to clutch knocks from Jared Barr and Liam Howell. With Max McDonald (on thanks to a walk) and Sam Cavossa (who singled) on the bases, Barr lined one to the outfield to score the first run. After Gagnon was hit by a pitch, Howell singled to make it 2-0.
Gagnon overcame a shaky first inning without giving up a run and then settled into a groove, retiring nine in a row before things got a bit hairy in the fourth. Duxbury loaded the bases, with the potential tying run on first and go-ahead run in the batter’s box, but Gagnon came up with a huge strikeout to end that threat.
Up 3-0 at that time, Post 188 added a big run in the bottom half of the fourth. Cam Bush led off with a single to right, stole second, went to third on a grounder by Jonah Schlezinger to the right side and scored on a sacrifice fly by Nunes.
Duxbury broke through with its first run of the game against Nunes in the fifth, but he wiggled his way out of trouble by making some big pitches in a tough spot. With runners on the corners and one out, Nunes was able to get a pop-up to center, on which Max McDonald made a fine running grab, and a groundout to short to end the threat. Duxbury was able to get one more run in the seventh, but the home team had enough of a cushion that they easily finished off the win, to advance to a rematch with Wareham.
A day earlier Wareham scored a 2-1 victory against Post 188 at Falmouth’s Fuller Field. It marked the third time in as many games that the two clubs played a game decided by just a single run.
Colton Colleran was fantastic over five innings of work for 188, allowing just one unearned run on two hits with two strikeouts and no walks. He left with the game tied at 1-1.
Wareham made a leadoff walk in the sixth come back to haunt 188. Four walks in the inning overall pushed in the eventual winning run.
Post 188 had ample chances in the game, but could not get the big hit that it needed. For the afternoon the club stranded 10 runners on base, including leaving the bases loaded in both the fifth and sixth innings. Sean Landry singled and scored the only run of the game for 188 in the fifth. Landry also had a hit that could have tied the game in the sixth. With runners on second and third he lifted a blooper over the first baseman’s head that landed just on the edge of the outfield. Willie Baker, who was hit by a pitch to start the inning, did not read the ball well and had to hold at third. Wareham was then able to get two straight force-outs to end the inning unscathed.