~ Special to The Bedford Citizen
On a hot, steamy Wednesday night at Lexington’s Center 1 field, the Bedford Bucs Senior Babe Ruth team (#3 seed) faced the daunting task of winning back-to-back games over #2 seed Winchester and #1 seed Lexington1.
To advance to the final against Lexington, the Bucs had to first complete the semifinal game against Winchester, postponed on a rain-soaked Monday night, with the Bucs leading 3-2.
Semifinal: Bedford Babe Ruth Seniors, 7 ~ Winchester, 2
The Winchester game resumed in the bottom of the 6th with 1 out and the tying run on first. Bedford took the field and called on BHS senior Dylan DiGangi to close things out. Following a steal of 2nd base, the hard-throwing righty was able to secure the last 2 outs of the inning, including a sharp ground ball out to Alex Oleksinski at 2nd base, to get Bedford up to bat in the top of the 7th.
Knowing the opportunity to advance to the championship game, the Bucs bats did not disappoint. Following walks by James Brosgol and Jessie Collins to start the 7th, Chris Venuti delivered a shot to deep center, scoring Brosgol and Collins all the way from first! The Bucs now led, 5-2. Nick Solitro followed with a hard liner up the middle that deflected off the pitcher, advancing Venuti to 3rd. Jack Venuti delivered a sacrifice fly to right field that scored his cousin Chris from 3rd. With 2 outs, Peter Kapanides, who missed Monday’s game due to an injury, returned in a big way by lining a single to center, scoring Solitro.
DiGangi confidently took the mound in the bottom of the 7th, now with a commanding 7-2 lead and a solid defense behind him, which included contributions in the Winchester semi-final especially from outfielders Jesse Collins, Adam O’Brien and Andrew Venuti. After DiGangi allowed a lead-off single, catcher Nick Solitro alertly threw down to first, catching a sleeping runner, who got himself caught between first and second. DiGangi went on to strike out the next two batters picking up the save and advancing the Senior Bucs to the Championship.
Championship: Bedford Babe Ruth Seniors, 3 ~ Lexington1, 2
After a short celebration of the Winchester victory, the Bucs were right back at it against Lexington1, for the championship (and local bragging rights!)
DiGangi returned to the mound as the starter in Game 2 of the night. He was able to keep the Lexington hitters off-balance while taking advantage of some stellar defense.
In the first inning, with 1 out and runners on 1st and 2nd, DiGangi struck out Lexington’s #4 batter, and an alert Solitro at catcher threw to Jack Venuti at first to pick off the runner, ending the threat.
In another defensive highlight of the game, with the bases loaded and nobody out, Lexington hit a hard grounder down the line to the outstretched arm of James Brosgol at 3rd. Brosgol stepped on 3rd base and threw home to Solitro for a double play!
DiGangi continued to throw well keeping the game a 1-1 tie heading into the top of the 5th.
After Jack Venuti took a pitch off the hand from the hard-throwing lefty pitcher from Lexington, Andrew Sullivan was called on to drop down a bunt in an effort to advance Venuti into scoring position. Sullivan executed a perfect bunt and forced an errant exchange between the pitcher and first base. With Venuti now on 3rd base, a wild pitch allowed Bedford to take the lead 2-1. Jesse Collins followed with a single to left, scoring Sullivan with the Bucs now leading 3-1.
After closing out the game 1 on a sweltering night, DiGangi, who scattered 4 hits and pitched well into the 5th inning of the second game, turned to reliever Owen Hickey.
Hickey faced a tough challenge coming in with 1 out and the bases loaded but was able to work out of the jam. After a scoreless 6th and top of the 7th, the Bucs entered the bottom of the 7th with a narrow 3-1 lead. With 1 out, Lexington had runners on 2nd and 3rd, representing the tying runs.
Lexington’s next batter hit a hard line drive to center field, which appeared as if the game was at least heading into extra innings, if not ultimately a disappointing last inning defeat. However, in a defensive play that was indicative of the Bucs’ defensive play all season, centerfielder Adam O’Brien fielded the ball cleanly and threw an accurate one-hopper to awaiting catcher, Solitro, who held on tight and swiftly applied the tag to end the game.
The Summer of 2021 ~ An Outstanding Season
What a finish to a fantastic season that saw the Senior Bucs finish with an overall record of 11-5-1, allowing just 40 runs over 17 games!
The Bucs played their best baseball coming down the stretch, going on to win their first Senior Babe Ruth League Championship. Manager Dave Venuti said, “I could not be prouder of this team. We got contributions from everyone all season and it was a great group of kids, who had fun playing together and worked hard all season”. Matt Carluccio who played a solid centerfield and led off for the Bucs all season was missed during the final two games due to a prior commitment.
Other players who contributed to the winning season included Ara Changelian, Devan Kaushik, and Sean Kennahan. The Senior Bucs were coached by Steve Carluccio, Justin Collins, David DiGangi, and Scott Venuti.