By Brad Fauber
FRONT ROYAL -- The Front Royal Post 53 American Legion baseball team felt the ill effects of a weeklong layoff when it squared off with Remington Post 247 on Wednesday at Bing Crosby Stadium -- but only for a short while.
Post 53's bats came alive in the bottom of the third inning, and Front Royal banged out 13 hits en route to a 10-3 win over Post 247.
The offensive firepower allowed Post 53 coach Danny Wood to stick to his game plan of using multiple pitchers in the nine-inning contest in an effort to save their arms for the playoffs, which begin late next week.
The quintet of Tyler Hott, Chaz Rutherford, Neil Dutton, Joey Catalani and John Reith combined to throw all nine innings for Post 53 while allowing just three runs on 10 hits.
"That week off really showed early on. But tonight, from my perspective is really about giving our pitchers a chance to get some work without putting a lot of stress on their arms," Wood said. "It worked out good. Luckily everybody threw well and didn't get into a lot of trouble. We didn't have to deviate from our plan."
Hott started the game for Post 53 and managed to escape his two innings of work without allowing a run despite giving up four hits and a walk. Hott's counterpart, Post 247 starting pitcher Bailey Moneymaker, held Post 53 hitless through the first two innings and escaped trouble of his own in the second when he hit two batters, including a scary moment when he hit Post 53's Hunter Partlowe in the head with a 1-0 offering.
Partlowe was forced to leave the game and went to the hospital to get checked out, but Wood said after the game that Partlowe was fine.
"He's OK and he's ready to return whenever he feels like it," Wood said. "He's a tough kid, he'll be back Saturday I'm sure."
Front Royal's bats came alive in the third, as Tyler Post (2-for-2, two doubles, two walks, two RBIs) delivered a one-out double down the right-field line to begin the rally, and Dutton reached on a walk to put runners on first and second for Hott.
Hott came through with an RBI double that one-hopped the fence in left-center to give Post 53 a 1-0 lead. Hunter Stewart brought Dutton home on a groundout to expand the lead to two runs.
Post 53 doubled its lead in the fourth when Post drilled his second double of the night off the left-field wall to score two more.
"It's always important to get those early runs, and maybe it kills their mojo a little bit and gets their confidence shaken," Hott, who finished 4-for-5 with four RBIs, said. "It was nice to get back out here. We played really well ... we were able to score a lot of runs for our pitchers and it really helped out."
Front Royal added another run in the fifth before Post 247 finally got on the board thanks to a Post 53 error in the top of the sixth.
Post 53 put the game out of reach in the bottom of the sixth, as Front Royal sent three runs across the plate on RBI hits by Hott and Stewart, and a Post 247 error. Post 247 scored a pair of runs in the top of the eighth to cut Front Royal's lead to 8-3, but Hott delivered a two-RBI double in the bottom of the frame.
In addition to the plentiful offensive output, Post 53 provided its pitchers with some outstanding defense, including Stewart's spectacular diving catch on a fly ball by Blain Lafin in right-center to end the fifth inning on a play that Hott said belongs on SportsCenter's Top 10.
While the win on the field was nice for Wood and rest of Post 53, Wood also applauded a victory off the field on Wednesday night. All of the proceeds from Wednesday's game will be donated to the Friends of Trent Fund, a foundation formed in the memory of 8-year-old Trent Williams, a Strasburg boy who lost his battle with cancer a year ago.
Over $500 was collected at the gate.
"I'm tickled to death," Wood said. "At $5 a pop, you know somebody had to come out of their pocket and give a little more than that, there weren't 100 people in the stands tonight. Five-hundred dollars, I feel like, is a great effort. It tells you that the community is there. I know it's not going to resolve all [the Williams'] bills, but it's going to help. And that is what our goal was."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org