By Jeff Nations
WINCHESTER -- The hits weren't in short supply for Winchester Post 21's American Legion baseball team on Monday night.
Post 21 rapped out 11 hits against visiting Ashburn Post 2001 over nine long innings. Plenty of hits, but the big one eluded Winchester in a 4-3 loss at James Wood High School's R. Charles Hott Field.
Post 21 stranded 13 base runners, in the loss, included a bases-loaded inning in the bottom of the third that resulted in no runs.
"We were just waiting for the big hit, and it just didn't happen tonight," Winchester coach Kyle Smallwood said.
Post 21 did strike first to shake up a pitcher's duel between Winchester' Colin Benner and Ashburn left-hander Zack Newell.
In the bottom of the fifth, Winchester's Jacob Carney (3-for-5) led off with a single to center field. Taylor Loudan followed by drawing a walk, and one out later Ryan Hartigan broke up the scoreless tie with an RBI single to right field. Nick Goode followed with an infield single to plate another run and give his team a 2-0 lead.
It didn't last long, as Post 2001 finally got to Benner in the top of the sixth. Kyle Wright drew a leadoff walk and stole second, but Benner then got two quick outs on fly balls. Charlie Fletcher then smoked a hard grounder toward left field that turned into a three-base throwing error.
Ashburn's Cody Shook then tied it with an RBI single, Nathan Davis drew a walk and Mitch Braumann delivered the big blow with a two-run double down the third-base line before Benner could get out of the inning.
Goode (3-for-5, two RBIs) got Winchester a run closer in the bottom of the seventh with an RBI single off Newell. That was it for Newell, who will play baseball at William and Mary next season as a preferred walk-on. He gave way to righty Charlie Fletcher, who will also be headed to William and Mary in the fall on a baseball scholarship.
Fletcher gave up a pair of singles over his three innings of work, but effectively shut down Winchester to save the win for Newell.
"We are pretty loaded," Ashburn coach Bill Mason said. "We have another kid, Devon Perez from Stone Bridge, who is going off to college to play, also. And we've got a stable of younger kids who are [class of] 2015 and even 2016. But in a game that tight, you go with your best and those were the two best options we had tonight."
Ashburn avenged an earlier defeat to Winchester with the win, after dropping the first meeting 4-2 on Jun 20.
Winchester got solid relief from Carder Smith and Bentley, who combined to throw three scoreless innings. Benner took the loss, allowing four unearned runs in six innings.
"It's always nice to face good competition, and they're always one of the best teams in the league," Smallwood said. "Teams over in that Leesburg area, they're always really good."
Contact staff writer Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org