Post 21 tops Post 53 in shortened game, amid controversy

WINCHESTER – Winchester Post 21 won its game with Front Royal Post 53 in unusual fashion Tuesday night.

Front Royal pulled its team off the field during the bottom of the fifth, ending the game and giving Winchester a 4-1 victory in American Legion baseball at James Wood High School.

Front Royal wanted Winchester to pull pitcher Alex Dobry from the game after some words were exchanged during the game. Winchester refused to take Dobry out of the game, so Front Royal head coach Rick Almarode pulled his team off the field.

“I think some words were spoken from either fans or players and coaches and things weren’t taken in the appropriate way, I guess,” Winchester head coach Anthony Hargrove said. “People got mad and that’s where we ended up with misunderstandings on the field that cost us some baseball.”

Almarode said he had no comment on the game.

Hargrove said the game was official because it lasted 4 1/2 innings.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s a legal game, unless (Almarode) files some kind of protest and we go forward from there,” Hargrove said.

Dobry, a rising sophomore at University of Virginia’s College at Wise, said everything started when he hit Front Royal’s Josh France with a pitch in the top of the third and a fan started yelling at him.

“Some fans were talking to me. I’m not going to sit there and take it,” Dobry said. “He was talking to me. He was talking to my catcher. I’m not going to take that. I accidentally hit a kid with a curveball and he starts yelling at me. I’m not going to hit a kid with a curveball (on purpose). Then their bench started yelling at me too and so did the coach. So I’m not going to sit there and take it.”

Dobry said the exchanges continued throughout the game.

“Their coach came over asking the umpires about the calls and I just said, ‘Yeah they’re making some good calls,’ and then he just kept talking to me. (Later) on a play to first, I went over and the coach said, ‘He didn’t touch the bag.’ I said, ‘I got the corner.’ That’s it – nothing provocative.”

In between the top and bottom half of the fifth, Almarode asked for Dobry to be removed from the game. Front Royal went onto the field and relief pitcher Ryan Abel hit Jordan Turner with a pitch to start the inning. Dobry came to the plate and when he did Almarode instructed his team to leave the field and the game was called.

Dobry said he wasn’t too surprised that something like this happened.

“It’s Front Royal – it’s always going to be like that. It’s a rivalry game,” Dobry said.

Dobry was sharp on the mound as he allowed just three hits in five innings of work. He struck out five and worked his way out of a couple jams.

“I thought I did a good job,” Dobry said. “I kept the ball down in the zone. I was able to locate my breaking pitches. That’s all there is to it. I got some strikeouts, ground balls and pop-ups.”

Post 53 (4-5) took the lead in the top of the first. Joseph Rutherford reached on an error. With one out, Ben Russo’s RBI double gave Post 53 a 1-0 lead.

Post 21 (11-4-1) rallied in the bottom of the second. With one out, Michael Tinsman singled off Rutherford. Caleb Peacher drew a walk. One out later, Brett Bodenschatz drew a walk to load the bases. Then a three-base error on a ball hit by Joel Smith gave Winchester a 3-1 edge.

Jordan Turner followed with an RBI single for a 4-1 lead.

“I think we were playing a decent ball game,” Hargrove said. “They’re a good little scrappy squad. Alex was pitching well.”

Hargrove said the team always feels good when Dobry is on the mound.

“Alex is our leader,” Hargrove said. “… We got a chance to win every ball game that that kid steps on the mound. He’s a competitor. He’s thrown us a great game every time he’s gone out, and we’re going to respond to that. I think it gets everybody at ease, gets that comfort level to ‘Hey, with him on the mound we got a chance to win.’ We feel that way every time Alex goes out there.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com