If the clichés are true and strong pitcher trumps good hitting, the Leominster American Legion Post 151 baseball team is hoping that a few of its arms step up as it enters the stretch run of the Zone 4 season.
Post 151 (7-4) has pulled to within half a game of Division A-leading Northboro (7-3), but with games scheduled almost daily for the next two weeks, the depth of Leominster’s pitching staff and the stamina of its hurlers will be put to the test.
Anyone who follows baseball locally knows what Ryan Garner, Angel Baez and Tyler Godin are capable on the hill. They were key cogs in the success of Leominster High this spring and have shown flashes of brilliance this summer as well.
Look no further than Garner’s start on Tuesday. The Husson-bound southpaw kept Framingham off balance all afternoon, striking out eight and allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits and a walk. A shutdown reliever for LHS this year, Garner often pitched for long stretches out of the bullpen and had no problem taking the ball for Tuesday’s start.
Recent Fitchburg High grad and UNH-bound lefty Henry Bruun has been solid in his starts for Post 151 this season and Leominster High rising sophomore Mark Garner has shown that’s he’s fully capable of dealing at the Legion level.
Trevor Robichaud, a member of Nashoba Regional’s class of 2023 who is heading to Colby Sawyer in the fall, has also seen time on the bump this summer and will be needed down the stretch. Limited by a minor lower-body injury, Robichaud tossed one inning of relief on Tuesday, striking out a pair while walking two and allowing an unearned run.
Leominster has 10 games — and the completion of another — scheduled between now and July 11. Post 151 begins the run with the completion of a suspended game against Northboro Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m. before kicking off a scheduled game against the same team to follow at Pin Cannavino Field.
Roller coaster ride for Phillies
A dozen games into the season, the Lunenburg Phillies sit in sixth place with a 6-6 mark, but aren’t out of the hunt for a high playoff seeding just yet. Outside of first-place Shrewsbury (11-3), no team in the CNEBA has more than eight wins, meaning a Lunenburg ascent up the standings isn’t much of a reach. Tyngsboro (8-6), Ronnie’s of Worcester (7-5), Oxford (7-6) and Worcester (7-7) are all within immediate striking distance.
It’s been an up-and-down ride for the Phillies, with wins and losses alternating nearly every time Lunenburg takes to the diamond. The Phillies haven’t lost more than two in row, but haven’t strung together more than back-to-back victories either.
Offense hasn’t been much of an issue for the Phils this season. Lunenburg has scored 99 runs scored entering Wednesday, with 51 coming in a pair of doubleheader splits against the last-place Auburn Rockets.
The team is also allowing an average of over 5.5 runs a game, giving up 67 in its 12 contests.
Longtime Lunenburg standout Steve LaJoie leads the CNEBA in batting at the moment with a .533 average (16-for-30), having driven in 10 runs. Fellow veteran Jonathan Belliard is first in the league in RBI (12) and doubles (eight), posting a .451 average at the dish.
Former Leominster High star Tyler Smith is showcasing his power with the Phillies, leading the CNEBA in runs scored (14) and tied for the league lead in homers with two. The Worcester State backstop is hitting .357.