LYNN — Junior Legion Post 291 manager Tony Luciano knew he had talent up and down his roster coming into the season. Like most coaches, Luciano felt his team had to play together as one unit in order to win.
It’s safe to say Lynn has done exactly that.
“The thing I like the most about this group is the kids all come to play,” Luciano said. “They all like one another. That makes my job much easier. When you’re carrying 16-18 kids and they’re all pulling for each other, they aren’t complaining about who’s playing and who isn’t playing, that’s a good team.”
Lynn captured the District 8 Junior Legion title Thursday with a 3-0 win over Andover at Fraser Field. The next stop is Wilbraham, where Lynn will play in the double-elimination state tournament. Lynn starts its state tournament quest Saturday night (8) against host Wilbraham.
“I had a good feeling about this group, as long as they could all jell together,” Luciano said. “I had a good idea about the attitudes and I knew they were all good players. St. Mary’s won the state championship so I was without those six kids for a little bit. Classical and Essex Tech had runs in the tournament so we were without those kids for a while. It was a bit tough at first but it’s been good. It’s been a fun time.”
Lynn went 9-6-1 during the regular season, good for the No. 3 seed in the district tournament. The Lynners won four games in districts to punch their ticket to states.
“The teams we played were really good teams,” Luciano said. “We were tested the whole way. If you’re going to go this far, you want to be tested and you want to play good teams.
“We wear Lynn on our chest,” Luciano said. “We want to play hard and represent the city with pride and good sportsmanship. I think we’ve done a pretty good job with that so far.”
Luciano pointed to depth, both in offense and pitching, as one of Lynn’s strengths. Offensively, it starts with Kory Ouellette and Colby Magliozzi from the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively. Nico Galeazzi, Aidan Dow and Jared DeFilippo follow suit in the middle of the order. Shawn Anderson, Cormac Collins, Ryan McMahon Jackson Nickolau and Harry Parker have also stepped up in key situations.
“Up and down our lineup, if I was the other team I’d be afraid to face all of them,” Luciano said. “We have different kids getting hot every night. Lucas Fritz is getting hot now, he’s knocked in some runs. Luke Mannion carried us early on. Toward the end of the regular season he had the hottest bat on the team.”
On the mound, Lynn turns to right-handers Kyle Durant, Andrew Luciano, Luke Mannion, and Terrence Moynihan, and left-handers Dow and Brendan McManus.
“We have a lot of arms that can outlast other teams,” Luciano said. “We always have kids that can go the next day. That’s something you need when you’re playing with a pitch count limit.”
Lynn doesn’t plan on making big changes going into states. Luciano feels his team can compete with any opponent as long as Lynn plays its best brand of baseball.
“I’m expecting some really good baseball to be played,” Luciano said. “Andover, I give them a lot of credit. They played us in a 13-inning game. We’ve been tested. I feel comfortable if we play our game. Our defense is superb. We’re making 99 percent of plays. If we throw strikes and we hit the ball like we can, I think we can pull off a few wins. I like this team a lot.
“We’re going to go out and give it our best shot. Hopefully we come out on top.”