Sixth-inning outburst powers Post 21 to win

STEPHENS CITY – It took several innings for Winchester Post 21 to get going in Tuesday night’s American Legion baseball game at Sherando High School.

After falling into a two-run hole against visiting Potomac Valley Post 64, Post 21 erupted for five runs in a decisive sixth inning and then coasted to a 10-5 win.

The victory, which improved Winchester to 3-1, was the second for Post 21 over Potomac Valley after it picked up an 11-1 win in the season opener last Thursday.

“We beat them 11-1 last time we played them so I think that kind of had a little bit to do with it,” Winchester catcher Chase Smallwood said of Post 21’s slow start. “But these kids, they’re still young. They don’t realize how intense Legion can be real quick. Any team, you can come out, you can be down 10-0 in the first inning.”

Things weren’t that extreme for Post 21 on Tuesday night, but coach Anthony Hargrove admitted Winchester didn’t play its best baseball as Potomac Valley took a 5-3 top of the sixth inning. The game changed rapidly from there.

Alex Dobry (2-for-3, two runs) got Post 21 started in the bottom of the sixth with a lead-off single and Winchester loaded the bases with no outs against Potomac Valley reliever Holden Sions. Andrew Loudan cut the deficit in half with a looping RBI single to right-center.

“I don’t know honestly, just seeing the ball and just concentrating really,” said Loudan, who finished with two of Winchester’s 11 hits and three RBIs. “I felt like in the last couple games I haven’t really been looking the ball in but tonight I did a fairly decent job.”

Recent Sherando graduate Ty Michaud tied the game at 5-5 with a pinch-hit sacrifice fly to center field and leadoff man Jordan Turner (2-for-4, double, two runs) gave Post 21 the lead with an RBI single to left.

Smallwood, a Sherando grad and rising sophomore at Shepherd University, capped the five-hit inning by grounding a two-run single to left field that gave Post 21 an 8-5 lead.

“I think we just kind settled there after a while,” said Smallwood, who was 2-for-4 with three RBIs. “Good pitcher, he had good stuff but he just kept leaving it over the middle of the plate. I think we just got settled though and got more confident and realized hey, we could very well lose this game to a team we beat 11-1 the last time. A couple guys, a couple leaders in the dugout got fired up and we were ready to go.”

Winchester also stole eight bases in the win.

Post 21’s pitching took over from there, as Michael Tinsman pitched the final three innings while limiting Potomac Valley to one hit, a walk and a hit-by-pitch. His cause was helped by two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth, as Joel Smith had an RBI single and later scored on a wild pitch.

Dobry got the win after coming on in relief of Post 21 starter KaCee Duggan (four runs allowed, one earned, on four hits and four walks) in the fifth.

Winchester’s defense, although it committed three errors, also turned three double plays, including a pair of 1-6-3 double plays started by Tinsman in the eighth and ninth innings.

“I can say honestly the pitching that I’ve got the whole year now has been outstanding,” Hargrove said. “You’ve got guys that go five, six, seven strong innings for you, it’s easy to manage the last two or three instead of coming out in the third or fourth. I’ve been real pleased with the pitching. Even KaCee probably didn’t have his A game today, but he struggled through four or five innings for us to where we could manage it the rest of the game.”

Potomac Valley stranded 10 runners in the loss.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com