The Needham Junior Legion team wraps up a successful first season in District 5 this week with four games in five days, beginning with a 6:30 game tonight against at Memorial Field, hosting Weston.
With four games remaining, Needham remains in the hunt for one of four playoff spots following a 7-4 road win over Shirley Sunday night despite a rocky start to the season, which saw the squad go winless through its first three games and win only one of its first five.
"I think we are in pretty good shape," said manager Rich McIntyre. "We tightened up the defense and loaded up the bats and the pitching has been very good since the rocky start."
Brian McCann went the distance against Shirley, allowing McIntyre to rest his remaining pitchers to prepare for this week, earning the win despite five regular starters being out of the lineup and his defense.
McCann took a 7-0 lead into the seventh inning, before Shirley struck for four runs as he began to run out of gas.
"We needed a complete game," said McIntyre. "We need our pitching ready for this week. He was getting tired but he stuck in there and finished it up."
Post 14 provided plenty of support for McCann, building a 7-0 lead as Jamie Arnao came out of his slump to provide a pair of run-scoring shots to drive in the team's first couple runs.
Cather Max Boenhart continued to swing a hot stick, driving in four runs with a pair of two-run base hits, including a triple.
"Max has been out of his mind lately," said McIntyre. "We got some base runners early and some kids that had been slumping were cranking the ball to drive them in."
A win over Weston tonight, which is also among the league leaders, would go a long way towards solidifying a spot in the postseason. McIntyre hopes to have lefty Zach Borson on the hill, but may opt for righty Nate Brown if Borson's tired arm isn't ready to go and hopes to be able to use closer Colin Fanelli come the late innings.
Post 14 has seen several key players come out of slumps recently as the team's offense has begun to click on all cylinders. The bottom of the lineup has been a big part of the turnaround, coming through in the clutch for late inning hits, while the pitching staff has developed into one of the team's strengths, aided by a stout defense.
After going 1-4 through five games, Needham got up off the canvas to win its next five games to go over .500.
Needham extended its unbeaten streak to seven with six wins and one tie before Newton ended their streak with a come-from-behind win courtesy of three unearned runs in the sixth inning.
The loss spoiled a solid comeback effort by Post 14 as they put dug out of a early 4-1 hole to take a 5-4 lead into the fifth inning.
Friday night's schedule game against Newton was rained out, rescheduled for 6:30 Wednesday at Memorial Field, one of three make-up games Needham will play this week.
After tonight's home game against Weston, Needham hits the road for on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. game at Somerville, then hosts Newton at 6:30, Wednesday at Memorial Field. The team concludes its regular season under the lights at Memorial Field, hosting Malden at 7 p.m. Friday.
McIntyre's roster consists of Brady McIntyre, Marco Ciavattone, Nate Brown, Jake Borson, Zack Borson, Alfred Turco, Peter Madsen, Paul Vergara, Billy Haynes, Max Boenhart, Ryan Fitzgerald, Tyler Forte, Colin Fanelli, Jamie Arnao, Joe Parsons, Brian McCann.