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Milford wins opener on a White-wash; Post 59 seeks a sweep today after Matt's masterpiece.

Byline: Rick Eggleston

MILFORD - If the Milford American Legion baseball team advances in the Central-West state sectionals, the players will look back on the night Matt White dominated on the hill against East Springfield.

Indeed, the Bellingham native was nothing short of masterful last night, twirling eight strong innings en route to a 5-0 shutout of Post 420 at Fino Field in the best-of-three series opener.

Post 59 will look to make it a clean sweep at 1 p.m. today, when it travels to Western New England College to battle East Springfield in Game 2.

Heading into last night's showdown with Post 420, White knew the stakes would be higher, because in state tournament play games jump to a full nine-inning tilt as opposed to the usual seven frames.

The change in game plan was nothing new for White, who this past fall and spring played his freshman season at Rollins College in Florida, where, of course, they play nine innings.

"Matt White did a great job. He was the story," Milford manager Rich Piergustavo said. "We knew we'd be in the 95- to 110-pitch range with it being a nine-inning game. The eight innings he threw is an inning more than he's pitched all year, and that's his highest pitch count, 110."

One-hundred and 10 pitches - no more, no less - White seemingly couldn't have planned it any better, as the hard-throwing southpaw struck out five and was tabbed for just three hits.

I was able to locate my fastball and get it over for strikes," White said. "For the most part I got ahead of hitters, and with it being nine innings it's a whole different ballgame. We didn't know anything about (East Springfield), so I just knew I had to come out and just throw strikes and get ahead of hitters."

Mission accomplished, as White settled right in and allowed no more than one batter to reach base through the first four frames, and retired the sides in order in the second, fourth and sixth innings. Milford's defense proved up the task as well, lending a hand in the fifth when White's batterymate Matt Collins gunned down Dan Fenton trying to steal third base.

Post 59 grinded out four early runs, touching up East Springfield starter Juan Taverez for a run in the first, two in the second and one more in the third.

Bryant Johnson's groundout to first to score Pete Ferelli from third base started things for Milford in the first, and was followed by Dan Muscatello's two-run single in the second to plate White and Mark Sanborn, who both roped singles. White's reach on a fielder's choice in the third scored Johnson, who had singled, and he later scored Milford's final run on Brendan Casey's pinch single in the eighth.

"That really put a smile on his coach's face. "Brendan is a good hitter and has done a good job for us all year," said Piergustavo, whose team outhit Post 420, 10-4, on the night. "We haven't been able to get him in there, but for him to come in and do that means everything to the team and to me as a coach. It means a guy who hasn't been playing every day, especially the last week or so, is still with us."
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 27, 2008
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