Bercume and Deshler lead Chiefs to title
Leadoff batter Jeff Bercume and Andre Chiefs teammate Tony Deshler, who hit right behind him in the order, were a potent 1-2 punch for the Intercity League champions this summer.
Facing the Lexington Blue Sox, the five-time defending champion, the Chiefs won the fifth and deciding game of the amateur league’s finals, 3-0, last Sunday at Lexington.
Bercume, the Chiefs center fielder who played at St. John’s High in Shrewsbury and Merrimack College, hit .435 in the regular season and .429 in the playoffs despite suffering a late-season hamstring injury.
Deshler, a left fielder from Pepperell who starred at Lawrence Academy in Groton and Brandeis University, batted .388 and .370, respectively.
“It’s been quite the ride the past couple of years,’’ said Bercume, who finished second in the league in batting and stole 26 bases in 27 attempts. “Last year we came back from two games down to force a fifth game, and this year Lexington, an organization I have great respect for, did the same.
“They won last year, and so we didn’t want our opportunity to slip away again.’’
It didn’t, and the team’s players and fans received a police escort through Medford after last weekend’s clutch victory.
“I’m playing for a great manager and person, Chuck Andre, and I played against a great manager and person, Rick DeAngelis of the Blue Sox,’’ said the 25-year-old Bercume, who was signed as a free agent by Oakland and batted .280 with its Class A Vancouver team in 2010.
“Last season I got caught in the numbers game behind drafted players and only had a few at-bats, so I drove right to the Chiefs game when I was released hoping to play again,’’ he recalled.
“I was at the cusp of the cutoff date and Rick DeAngelis spoke up for me before the league’s coaches and helped me get reinstated.’’
Bercume and Deshler were among several players with area ties who contributed to the Medford-based team’s first Intercity League title since 1997, but 18th overall, including when the franchise was called the Hosmer Chiefs.
Tim Dunphy of Cambridge, who was 10-3 on the mound at Brandeis University his senior year in 2006, compiled a 6-1 regular season record and 1.14 earned run average. He went 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA in the playoffs for the Chiefs.
Matt DiCato of Winthrop, who starred at Framingham State University this spring, was 4-1 with a 1.33 ERA for the Chiefs and pitched well in a postseason loss.
Also suiting up for the champs were Babson College’s Rob Caggiano of Medford, Salem resident Andy Cavanaugh, who played at Dean College in Franklin, and Jon Byrne, out of Arlington Catholic High.
Bercume, a sales representative for a Sterling plastics packaging manufacturer, said that with his pro career behind him, it was easier to focus solely on the present.
“I was more relaxed and it just carried over right through the playoffs. I enjoyed every moment of every game,’’ said Bercume, a Leicester native who was a role player at St. John’s and a walk-on at Merrimack, where he set a school record for career hits his senior year, 2009.
“My time with the A’s organization also helped me develop,’’ said Bercume, who talked hitting and fielding with Coco Crisp when the former Red Sox outfielder was on rehab assignment, and base stealing with the great Rickey Henderson, a minor league instructor for the Oakland system.
Deshler had a tough decision to make a year ago.
He was hitting .333 for the Chiefs after graduating from Brandeis, but had the opportunity to play with Penrith of the Australian Major League.
“It was a chance to see another part of the world, but the timing wasn’t great. I had to leave the day before the playoffs,’’ said Deshler, a career .305 hitter for the Judges.
“I kept track of last year’s playoffs by going online and I was looking forward to getting another crack at a title,’’ said Deshler, 23, a two-time team MVP at Lawrence Academy, where he is an assistant baseball coach. “This season turned out just awesome. I’m happy for my teammates and for Chuck.’’
Kudos in gymnastics
The Gymnastics Learning Center of Shrewsbury was honored as Junior Olympic Club of the Year by the Massachusetts Gymnastics Association.
Robert McElroy and his wife, Nikki, were recognized by the association for their dedication to the sport. Robert is team director at the center and Nikki is a coach.
Last season, gymnasts under their tutelage won state and regional championships. Two qualified for the Junior Olympic nationals in May in Hampton, Va., including Lianne Josbacher of Shrewsbury, who medaled in Level 10 floor exercise.
Here and there
Arlington resident Michele Naughton, a 2003 graduate of Randolph-Macon Women’s College, has been named an assistant women’s volleyball coach at Bentley University. She was previously head coach with the Andover Pumas Junior Olympic Club. A native of Gaithersburg, Md., she was team captain her senior year of college. . . Daytona Cubs outfielder John Andreoli, a baseball standout while at St. John’s High and the University of Connecticut, has been named to the Florida State League All-Star team. A 17th- round pick by Chicago in the 2011 first-year player draft, Andreoli was batting .288 through 115 games with 53 runs scored, 15 doubles, and 53 stolen bases in 71 attempts.