By Chris Villani Sports Reporter/Columnist · July 08, 2016
Winning Streak Puts Northbridge Atop
Zone 4 Standings
The Northbridge Post 343 Legion team may have lost some significant players from last year's state tournament squad, but an eight-game winning streak has the squad right back into the hunt for the Zone 4 title, with a 10-2 record through Monday's games, just one game off the lead.
"We beat some pretty good teams," Northbridge skipper John Demagian said following the run, which ended in a loss to Milford. "The pitching has been fantastic, everybody we throw out there has done a pretty good job.
"This is a surprise, it really is," he added. "We lost a lot of guys last year, a lot of college players, and we didn't know what to expect. We have some guys who have stepped up and done a pretty good job for us."
Northbridge split with Milford, beating Post 59 3-0 at home before losing on the road. Demagian admitted the team has had trouble scoring runs at times, but Nipmuc graduate Tom Sperino has been a boost to both the pitching staff and the offense.
"He beat Milford and he beat Leominster last Thursday 4-1, and the only run was unearned," Demagian said. "He is coming around pretty well, but that's what we expected out of him."
Sperino has also been a force at the plate, hitting third in the lineup and playing a mix of first base and designated hitter. He is hitting north of .500, the manager said.
"He is having a great year so far, with him out of the lineup, we have to scramble," Demagian said. "He wasn't in the lineup Saturday and we struggled with Grafton Hill."
Another Nipmuc standout, Izaiah Wadsworth, has stood out in relief and Demagian said he expects Wadsworth to make a start before the end of the regular season. He earned a save in a win over Framingham and pitching in relief against Milford.
"He has been doing a good job for us out of the pen," Demagian said. "We have a long way to go...so he is probably going to get a start."
Blackstone Valley Tech's Marc Flores has been a utility player for Post 343. Demagian said he has played first base, played in the outfield, and caught, and called him both a "good athlete and a good player."
Heading into Tuesday's games, Shrewsbury topped the Zone with a 12-2 mark, followed by 10-2 Northbridge and 9-4 Milford. Demagian said he expects Main South and Leominster to also be in the mix when the postseason comes around and a spot in the state tournament is on the line.
"You can't take anyone lightly in this zone, because anyone can get hot on any night, so you have to come to play any night," he said. "We don't have the kind of team that can bash and score 10 runs. We have to pitch, play good defense, and get some big hits."
Post 343 has its sight set squarely on once again being one of the final eight in the state.
"That's the goal, that's what we say every day," Demagian said. "Hopefully, we will get better every day and every game and be there at the end. That's all we are looking for, a chance to be there at the end."