Barnstable Post 206 Legion Crowned State Champs
Not since the team's inception in 1930 in Hyannis has the Barnstable Post 206 American Legion Baseball team been crowned District or State Champions but this season proved a year of change as the team captured both titles with a remarkable 22-2-1 record.
It still hasn't sunk in.
Perhaps that's because of Barnstable Post 206 American Legion baseball's motto: "One inning at a time."
The Post 206 squad - consisting of 17 young teenage men from the town of Barnstable, all high-school-aged players - was crowned Massachusetts State Champions 10 days ago and has been preparing to take the next step when it travels to Old Orchard Beach, Maine next week. The team departs on August 8 at 10:00 am from Cotuit via bus to participate as the state's representative in the 2012 American Legion Baseball Northeast Regionals.
Perhaps when the team takes the field at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach, things might sink in a little bit - Barnstable Post 206 will be facing the top Legion teams from New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island and New York. The winner represents the Northeast in the 2012 American Legion World Series set for SHelby, North Carolina just two days after the end of the Regionals. Barnstable hopes to be there when the Regionals comes to a close on August 14.
The team is coached by Sean Walsh, Jack Toffey, Andy Nugnes and David Tierno, each of whom takes their specific roles on and off the field quite seriously, Walsh said.
"Each of us is an equal on the field. It's the way good teammates play well together and it's the way good coaching staffs help each other to find ways to win," Walsh said. "Sure, we disagree sometimes, but you can't succeed in this game without a good dose of humility once in a while or being able to step outside yourself and say 'hey, maybe I'm wrong'. We don't act like bosses and employees - we act like counterparts on the same mission and I can speak for all of us when I say that our mission is to help these kids become better baseball players, better people and ultimately, good citizens who take the American Legion core values seriously."
Post 206 is led by four-year players Alex Pernick, Everett Walsh, Pete Liimatainen, Luke Besse and Timmy Biliouris, followed by third-year men Danny Walsh, Will Toffey, Mark Brodd, Terrence Mudie and Alec Morrison. Second-year players include Dylan Morris, Conor Walsh, Denny Beynor, Ryan Litchman and Dan Holzman. Rookie George Bent is more like an aged-veteran on the squad in his first year of American Legion ball: he went 5-0 on the mound and proved the ace-in-the-hole of the Post 206 pitching staff down the homestretch of the regular season and the National Bound Tournament in Worcester 10 days ago.
But the rare man on the team - in more ways than one - is fifth-year Legion hurler Keegan Dellacona, a Kelley Road, Hyannis native who garnered Boston Herald All-Scholastic honors this year and Old Colony League Pitcher of the Year bragging rights. He was also tapped to be the East starter a few weeks ago in the 2012 Compass Moving District 10 American Legion All-Star Game.
"Talent like Dellacona comes around not too often," Walsh said. "I credit Coach Toffey with being able to handle some of Dellacona's ups and downs, pinpoint what he needed to work on and helping him refine some of the things the kid does well."
Walsh called Coaches Kevin Rix and Ken Hopkins at the Community College of Rhode Island at the outset of the Legion season and asked if they'd be interested in a player who routinely threw in the 90 mph range. Hopkins and his staff were at McKeon Park in Hyannis the next night and made Dellacona an offer to come pitch in his father's home state.
"The (Post 206) coaches compliment each other well," Dellacona said.
Post 206 was the benefactor of a number of breakout seasons by its players including new records set for batting average (Dylan Morris, .488), hits (40, Dylan Morris), Runs Batted In (41, Alex Pernick) and earned run average (0.79, Dellacona). The team also set a record for stolen bases with 98 in 25 games.
"I give Coach Toffey credit for latching onto and assimilating Cotuit Kettleers' Field Manager Mike Roberts' base-stealing philosophy," Walsh said. "The technique works and Toffey took advantage of Roberts being willing to share that knowledge. Offensively, it's put us in the driver's seat more often than not."
After staging come-from-behind wins over Sudbury Post 191 and Wilbraham Post 286 in the National Bound Tournament in Worcester, ending with Post 206 hoisting the circa-1925 State Championship trophy above its collective shoulders, the team began its preparation for the Regionals.
In addition to practice and scrimmages, the players have been hitting the bricks to try and raise money for the trip and in part, to hopefully gear up with new uniform pants and some other gear the team has worn out en route to this stellar campaign. Players were out this weekend at Star Market in Hyannis along with Post 206 longtime member Tom Holmberg shaking the cans and showing off the championship hardware. The team plans on more this coming weekend. Anyone willing to make a tax-deductible donation can visit www.barnstablelegionbaseball.com or call team treasurer John Hardy at 774-836-5924.
"It costs us $10,000 to run this team just for the regular season," Walsh said. "This run is new territory for us so we're hunkering down and most everyone is chipping in to help. We're greatful to veterans like Mr. Holmberg and Jake O'Rourke for their continued, unconditional support of these young ballplayers. We hope to make them proud in Maine."