Bench provides Post 21 with spark in victory
By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WINCHESTER — Winchester Post 21 manager Steve Smallwood is blessed with many options on his squad. On any given night he can have players step up off the bench and be big contributors to the team — Tuesday night’s 10-7 win over Potomac Valley Post 64/78 was no exception.
Justin Angel came off the bench and had three hits, while Ethan Emmart came up big in the ninth inning to get the save.
Smallwood said since it wasn’t a district game, he wanted to mix the lineup around some.
“That’s a luxury,” Smallwood said. “Last night we only had 10 against Manassas 158. We got a complete game out of Chase [Smallwood]. And the other boys we don’t really fall off very much, and they’re all interchangeable when we make changes.”
Things did not start off well for Winchester, as Potomac Valley built a 5-0 lead in its first two innings.
Potomac Valley’s Alex See had a two-run homer in the top of the first off Winchester starter Jordan Clark to help give them a 3-0 lead.
An RBI single by Ryan Colaw in the second helped extend the lead to 5-0.
Winchester (14-1, 9-1 District) responded with a run in the bottom of the second, and another one in the fourth to cut the lead to 5-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, Winchester’s bats came to life against Potomac Valley starter Daniel Hevener, as they scored seven runs to take the lead.
Angel, who came into the game in the fifth, had two hits in the inning, including a two-run single.
“I was just trying to get in there, just get a couple at-bats and get on the bag,” Angel said. “It’s definitely harder than starting because you’re not as fresh, but once you get an at-bat in you’re good to go.”
Angel started the inning off with a hit, and Taylor Loudan drew a walk. A single by Nick Goode then loaded the bases. Cody Unger’s infield RBI single cut the lead to 5-3.
Chase Smallwood then delivered a two-run single to tie the game at 5-5.
“I knew with the pitcher I could finally see the ball, and I saw that the infield was in,” Chase Smallwood said. “I could see them all 60 feet from me it felt like. Dad always tells me — infield’s in, your batting average goes up. You got a lot better chance. All you gotta do is hit the ball hard and nobody has time to react to it. He threw me a fastball and I was like ‘OK, I’m going to swing hard. I’m going to score this run somehow.’ I swung hard and the ball went past the second baseman.”
John Bentley followed with a single to load the bases once again with still no outs. Ethan Emmart hit into a force at home. A Ryan Hartigan RBI single gave Winchester the lead, and a throwing error made it 7-5.
Potomac Valley’s Ryan Hedrick relieved Hevener, but Angel’s two-run single extended the lead to 9-5.
Daniel Malsch relieved Clark for Winchester and pitched a solid three innings, but two errors helped lead to runs in the top of the sixth to cut the lead to 9-7.
Winchester extended the lead to 10-7 in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI single by Angel.
In the top of the ninth, Malsch walked Colaw and Brandon George to start the inning, and Emmart then came on in relief.
Emmart struck out the side to end the game to pick up his fourth save.
“You just gotta go in with a bulldog mentality and come in and shut it down — you can’t be nervous,” Emmart said. “I felt good. I just kept calm. I just went out there and got outs. That’s all you gotta do.”
It was the sixth game in four days for Winchester, and they have a big game today at Ashburn Post 2001, the only team that has defeated them this season.
“I think the last game [against Ashburn] we were a little tight,” Chase Smallwood said. “We knew they were undefeated and now I think we’ll be fine. I think we’ll go out there with confidence.”
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org