Post 21 gets complete effort in rout of Post 53

WINCHESTER – Winchester Post 21 manager Anthony Hargrove said he “chewed out” his team for a lackluster showing on the road against Ashburn Post 2001 earlier this week, chiding them for not putting forth the energy expected of the defending American Legion District 16 champions. Post 21 seemed to get the message.

In Thursday’s home game against Front Royal Post 53, Winchester was sharp in all facets of the game as Post 21 bashed 11 hits and played flawless defense behind a strong pitching effort from Michael Tinsman en route to a 10-0 victory at James Wood High School that was shortened to seven innings due to the mercy rule.

“That’s a different attitude and that’s what I told them, you’ve gotta come to the ballpark every night because we’ve got the bull’s eye on our backs because we won the championship last year. Everybody’s after us,” Hargrove said. “I was very pleased with the way they came to the park tonight.”

In a bit of foreshadowing of the fortunes to come for Post 21, shortstop Jordon Turner made a tumbling, over-the-shoulder, barehanded grab on a looping pop-up into shallow left field on the first pitch of the game.

“I think that pumped everyone up, got them excited and I think that showed for the rest of the game,” said Turner, a Clarke County High School graduate who will soon attend the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.

Post 21 (15-6-1) would then strike for three runs in each of the first three innings to put the game out of reach quickly, an outburst fueled by a combination of seven hits and five costly Front Royal (5-6) errors.

Turner, who reached base five times, scored three runs and stole four bases in the win, got the rally started in the bottom of the first inning with his one-out double on a fly ball that dropped just inside the left-field line off Post 53 starter Tyler Ritenour. He moved to third on a double steal after a walk by Ravyn Rouse and scored Cohen Kerns’ RBI groundout.

A Front Royal fielding error allowed Rouse to score in the next at-bat, and Frank Ritter then scored all the way from first base after Alex Dobry’s single to left was misplayed for Post 53’s third error of the frame.

“I feel like once we swing the bat and we’re not so timid, we’re good, we hit the ball,” said Turner, who was 3-for-3 with a pair of walks. “When we put it in play good things happen.”

As it turned out, that three-run lead would’ve been plenty for Tinsman, who allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out five in seven innings of work.

“It was definitely more relaxing knowing that I can throw the ball over the plate more confidently and let them hit the ball, especially with how my defense played tonight with no errors behind me,” Tinsman said of the early lead.

“My catchers, Cohen (Kerns) and Caleb (Peacher), did a good job mixing pitches up, throwing the curveball, slider, splitter in there, throwing the fastball in there when I needed to throw it. The catchers do a good job calling the pitches.”

Winchester added to its lead in the second inning, as Joel Smith (2-for-4) and Turner led off with back-to-back singles before Smith came home on Rouse’s RBI grounder that ended in another Front Royal error. Turner gave Post 21 a 5-0 lead when he stole home on catcher Robert Rutherford’s throw back to Ritenour after an offering to Kerns.

“I noticed (Rutherford) kept dropping to his knees when he threw it back to the pitcher, so he had nothing on it when he threw it back so I just went,” said Turner, who said he accomplished the same feat against Post 53 earlier this season.

Winchester made it 6-0 in the second inning on what initially appeared to be an RBI double by Ritter, who was ruled out on appeal for missing first base.

In the third inning, Adam Miller hit the first pitch from Front Royal reliever Brett Ritter into left for an RBI single that scored Michael Usa (2-for-2, walk) before another error and an RBI fielder’s choice by Kerns made it 9-0 Winchester.

Post 21 ended the game in the bottom of the seventh inning on Dobry’s bunt to the right side that allowed Turner to score.

Ritenour, who failed to record an out in the third inning, was tagged for eight runs (five earned) on six hits, three walks and two strikeouts. Ritter tossed three innings of relief for Post 53 and allowed an unearned run on four hits, three walks and three strikeouts. Jared Rice pitched 1 1/3 innings and allowed a hit and a walk.

Post 53 committed seven errors in the loss.

“We’ve just gotta play better,” Front Royal head coach Rick Almarode said. “The kids acted like they were a little bit flat tonight. I don’t know.

“It just fell apart tonight,” he added.

Hargrove said Post 21 was tied for second place in the District 16 regular season race with three games remaining. Winchester returns to action Friday evening at home against Romney Post 91, while Front Royal will host Leesburg Post 34.

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