WHITMAN — After the final out was recorded and the handshakes finished, the Whitman Post 22 Senior Legion team gathered in left field as per usual. There was one man who was the center of head coach Todd DeCouto’s congratulatory speech after a 5-4 win against Brockton Post 35 Sunday, and that was John Murphy, and rightfully so.
The right-hander hurled a complete game and simply dazzled the Brockton bats all evening – recording 10 strikeouts and surrendering four hits en route to the victory.
“We came out to play today,” DeCouto said. “Johnny has been our go-to guy on the mound, so I was expecting a good game from him, which we got. When the curveball is working, he is really almost unhittable.”
Thanks to a pair of two-run innings, Post 22 was able to go up 4-0 early and they never looked back in a pivotal bout with playoff implications on the line.
After Murphy was able to strand two Brockton runners on base in the top of the first, Whitman gave him some support. A quick Nick Spyropoulos single that cracked the hole between shortstop and third base got the inning going and he was sent home two batters later when James Dolan reached on an error to put Post 22 up 1-0.
After a Brett Spano double play pushed Tim DeCouto, who was on base via a hit by pitch, over to third base, Ryan Sawtelle knocked him in to make it 2-0.
James Dolan would begin the bottom half third inning with a rocket to left field for a double. Spano then would reach second courtesy of an error to knock in Dolan and make it 3-0.
The next batter, Sawtelle, would continue his monster game with a double to plate Spano and extend the Post 22 lead to 4-0.
After a scoreless fourth inning from both squads, Murphy would get Post 35 1-2-3 in the top of the fifth, in what was the quickest half inning of the game.
In the bottom half of the frame, Spano got the action going with a line-drive single to right field, and he was sent home on a Sawtelle poke to left field, pushing Post 22 up 5-0.
“He’s been huge for us,” DeCouto said of Sawtelle. “He’s had a lot of big hits for us this year.”
However, Brockton would not go easy as Post 35 was finally able to get to Murphy with four runs, on three hits, in the top of the sixth inning to slice its deficit to 5-4.
Murphy would return to the hill for the top of the seventh, after Post 22 was unable to get anything cooking in the bottom of the sixth, and he was able to work around a two-out single to close out a 5-4 Whitman win.
Sawtelle led Post 22 on offense with three hits and two runs batted in as Caleb Burke chipped in two hits.
“He’s been huge for us,” DeCouto said. “He’s had a lot of big hits for us all year.”
The victory moved Whitman to 6-9-1 and Brockton fell to 5-12.
Post 22 sits in the ninth spot, one point behind Rockland Post 147 (7-8), in the Senior Legion standings in a league that the top eight make the playoffs.
Whitman will be back on the field at home against Pembroke Post 143 (12-4) Friday, July 7, at 5:45 p.m.
“That should be a good game,” DeCouto said. “We beat them the first time around, and there at the top of the standings, so it’ll be good to see them here.”