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Milford Legion Finding Answers on the Mound

Milford Legion manager Steve DiVitto has been forced to do without two of the guys he expected to be important parts of his pitching staff. Bellingham products Kevin Martinis and David Sampson are coming off a state championship season with the Bulldogs and are battling injuries that have limited their effectiveness for Post 59.
"Martinis is working his way back from a shoulder injury he suffered during the high school season and Sampson just needs some rest," DiVitto said. "We are going to be cautious. We are shutting Sampson down for five to seven days because we want him healthy for the stretch run. In the meantime, we just have to find a way to survive."
Milford has been able to handle the absence of the Bellingham pitchers, both of whom played major roles in last year's run to a state title, with the help of three mainstays on the mound. Cam Cossette (Milford), Dan Avery (Milford, Blackstone Valley Tech), and Dan Mantoni (Hopedale '13) have all delivered in significant roles.
Through three starts, Avery is 2-0 on the mound with a 0.56 ERA. He has peppered the strike zone with 21 strikeouts and only one walk through 18 innings pitched. He tossed a five inning shutout against Sturbridge, and allowed just two hits and struck out seven in a win over Shrewsbury.
Cossette, the ace of the Milford High staff this spring, has a 3.53 ERA and a 1-2 record. His best outing came in a nine-strikeout performance against East Side. He earned the win, allowing just three runs through six innings. Mantoni has a 0.71 ERA through 14 innings. His first two starts were both complete-game victories. Pitching to contact, he scattered five hits and struck out three in a win over Leominster at Fino Field on Monday night.
Perhaps the biggest pleasant surprise for Post 59 has been Alex Croteau, who will be a senior at Milford High this fall. He has worked 9.2 innings in relief without allowing an earned run. "He didn't see a ton of time on the high school mound, but he has come in a couple of times and given us a chance to win," DiVitto said. "He has been outstanding and given us some help when we really needed it."
Croteau came in with Post 59 down 5-0 against Wachusett and worked 3.2 scoreless innings. Milford lost the game 5-4, but had an opportunity to win thanks to the shutdown relief performance. Sampson got the start last week against Cherry Valley, but after more than 70 innings during the high school season, is going through a bit of a "dead arm" period and had to come out in the second inning. Croteau allowed just one base runner over the next three innings and earned the win.
"It's tough because Sampson has only thrown two innings for us and Martinis is yet to throw," DiVitto said. "It was a long high school season and they were counted on heavily and rightfully so."
DiVitto said there is a balancing act between wanting to put the best lineup on the field and considering the long-term health of his players. "We are always thinking about their careers," he said. "These are guys who are going to college to play and the last thing we want to do is hurt them long term for the sake of a legion season. We want them to be as healthy as possible and we always look out for our kids."




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