The Gordon Greene Post 27 American Legion baseball team has seen their share of success of late, with multiple trips to the Final Four in recent years. There was different “four” of note this summer, however. That being the total number of wins the team amassed over the course of a disappointing 2013 season, which came to an end last week.
After a 4-18 regular season, Greene qualified for the playoffs as the 14 seed. Set to play East Bay-Riverside Post 10 in a play-in game last Thursday, Greene forfeited the contest, ending their season.
“We were just down players as the year progressed,” said Gordon Greene coach John Devereaux. “The season wasn’t a very good season, we didn’t have a tremendous amount of wins. …The core of the kids were there, we just couldn’t get the nine there we needed for the last night.
“As the season progressed, less and less would come. …I was just hoping we’d get through the playoffs, whatever the outcome.”
By all accounts, this summer should have been a competitive one for Gordon Greene, with a roster comprised mostly of players from Westerly High School, a RIIL Division II finalist during the spring, and Chariho High School, a RIIL Division II semi-finalist. The talent was there, but struggles on the field and struggles to fill out the lineup card began right from the start as the team opened the year with a four-game losing streak and went 1-9 in their first ten games.
It was troubles on both sides of the ball for Greene as the team lacked consistency at the plate and struggled defensively at times as players were forced into roles they were unaccustomed.
“There are some teams we competed with fine,” the coach said. “Switching to the wooden bats maybe had a little bit to do with it. We just couldn’t get those timely hits that we needed. …Could not get that hit to get that big run in and come home with a win and carry it over to the next game.
“Defense wasn’t quite as strong as I would have liked it to be. We had a couple of spots where we didn’t have many kids who could play there, so if someone didn’t show up, I’d mix kids around in spots they really weren’t familiar with.”
There were certainly moments of promise on the season, however. Pitcher Jake Marchesseault returned for his final season of American Legion after a promising start to his college career at Johnson & Wales, and threw well for the club, highlighted by a 16 strikeout performance in the team’s final game of the regular season against West Warwick Post 2. Recent Exeter-West Greenwich graduate James Fiske joined the team for the first time this summer and earned praise from Devereaux for his ability to succeed all over the field.
In the end, however, the grind of the season took its toll on Gordon Greene and there was not enough left when the team needed it most.
“It’s definitely a long season after coming off a long high school season. It was tiring,” said Devereaux. “We went right into it. We played a lot of games, played a lot of make-ups. It is an intense season in American Legion. You have to play a lot of baseball.
“By the end of the season it really hurt the pitching. A lot of the kids who normally pitch just couldn’t do it any more.”
Despite their issues on the field and to draw the numbers, there was still a chance for Greene heading into the play-in game last week. It seemed as though the heavy rain in the forecast could have been able to help them, as the league postponed all play-in games, but the forfeit had sealed their fate.
“And I had that scenario going,” Devereaux said, “saying ‘Well, if we got rained out, maybe that’d be the Saving Grace,’ but come to find out the next night I would have had even less kids… that’s why I didn’t want to waste anybody’s time, the other team or any of the kids that did want to come. I just couldn’t see the point in pushing it to the next day.”