Submitted by Bedford Babe Ruth Baseball and Softball
For the third year in a row, Bedford entered a team of 13 through 15-year-old players in the Lou Tompkins B Division. Hopes were high after the prior two years when the team qualified for the playoffs by finishing in the top eight in a field of 25 teams.
The Lou Tomkins (LT) League is an all star summer baseball league in northeastern Massachusetts named after longtime Bedford resident and baseball volunteer Lou Tompkins who was a longtime leader of the small diamond in the U-12 Bay State Baseball League. When establishing the equivalent league for older boys playing on the big diamond, the directors named the league in his honor.
This summer Bedford fielded a combined team with Concord. The two towns have been collaborating at the Babe Ruth level since the spring of 2022 based on registration numbers. Each town also fielded their own Babe Ruth team in the Arlington Summer League this summer.
The LT schedule is unrelenting, starting the day after school let out and running into the second week in August with two or three games plus a practice per week. Despite the challenges of this summer’s rainy weather, the team managed to play 16 of their 18 scheduled games prior to playoffs, with a 13-3 record.
The summer started somewhat tentatively under the lights in Chelmsford with the players and coaches from the two towns moving players around, trying to find the right spots and fill in positions. Bedford was held scoreless through four innings, but broke through with two runs in the fifth and one more in the sixth. It was a tie game after the regulation seven innings. Bedford scored a run in the eighth and held on for the extra-inning win to kick off the season.
The second game was against familiar rival Billerica. Bedford wasted no time getting in front in the first rematch since Billerica eliminated Bedford in the playoffs last season, when Brendan Orr blasted a three-run homer in the top of the first. Billerica came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning and added two more in the second to take a 4-3 lead. The score stayed that way until the sixth inning when Chase Brazee hit a game-winning three-run home run.
The benefits of a turf field became apparent when the team traveled to Winchester one night. The game had just started when the sunny day gave way to a thunderstorm. Thanks to the synthetic instead of a natural grass surface, the game carried on. Joe Grasso benefited from the slick turf when his line drive to left centerfield got between the outfielders and just kept rolling. He had a home run before the ball got back to the infield.
Bedford hosted Wayland at BHS at the midpoint of the season. The home team jumped out to an 11-0 lead and needed one more run to end the game after five innings via the mercy rule. Matteo Oliveri-Kuhnle took matters into his own hands by leading off the inning with a single and quickly stealing second base. He moved up to third on a passed ball, and then scored on an overthrow to the third baseman. Bedford won the contest with Bedford pitcher Anderson Marino tossing a perfect game. The defense was phenomenal with eight ground ball outs to the infield.
The team then played four games during the final six days of the regular season to clinch the #6 seed in the playoffs. The top eight teams played a double elimination format to get to the final four for championship weekend.
The first playoff game was on the road against Billerica on Aug. 7. The bats were quiet and Bedford lost, 7-1.
The second playoff game was pushed a day ahead due to rain. Bedford hosted Reading Black (one of two Reading teams in the playoffs). The boys jumped out quickly, scoring three runs in the first and went on to take a 5-2 victory.
Then came a rematch against Billerica, again on Billerica’s home field. Lots of baseball between these two teams in recent years. This year, Bedford eliminated Billerica 12-1 to earn a spot in the weekend Tournament of Champions.
The semifinal games were at Pine Banks Park in Melrose. Bedford took on top-seeded Cambridge. Cambridge jumped out to an early 5-2 lead. Bedford came back to tie the score in the top of the sixth, helped by a home run from Brendan Orr and an RBI single by Paul Stewart to tie the game. Bedford couldn’t hang on and ended up losing the game, 12-5. Cambridge went on to beat Waltham for the Championship, 9-1.
It was a great summer of baseball and the future is bright for the big diamond teams at BHS and JGMS.
Bedford and Hanscom players on the team included Chase Brazee, Derek Gallant, William Gallant, Theodore Hollman, Joe Kaiser, Anderson Marino, Mike McDaniel, Matteo Oliveri-Kuhnle, Brendan Orr, Paul Stewart, and Miles Trant.