At first glance, it’s beginning to look a lot like 2012. But a closer look at Mechanicsville Post 175 will show that the team on a current 12-game winning streak is not the dominating team that opened last season with 23 straight victories.
The bottom line, though, is winning, and Post 175 has plowed through a murderous schedule doing just that, including doubleheaders on back-to-back days, to up their record to 13-2 and vault to the top of the District 11 standings.
Perhaps the most impressive win was Sunday. Post 175 had won two games Friday at Midlothian Post 186, then came home to play, and win, two games against Powhatan Post 201 Saturday evening. On Sunday, the district leaders, West End Post 361 came to Atlee High School, one of only two teams to defeat Mechanicsville this season. Post 361 left on the losing end of a 10-4 score, and Post 175 earned a share of the district lead. Both Mitch Keeler and Cody Thompson homered for Post 175 in the win.
The depth of their pitching staff has been key. Saturday’s first win over Powhatan, 9-5, was a showcase of rising VCU sophomore, Lee-Davis graduate Michael Thomas, who willed his way to a 10-strikeout, complete game performance. In the nightcap it was rising Atlee junior Justin Bishop who impressed, pitching five strong innings to earn the 5-1 victory. Rising Hanover junior Anthony Zona worked two innings for the save.
The constant rainy weather placed Post 175 in a position where they had to play 13 games in just nine days. So Monday, there was no rest as Post 175 went to Douglas Freeman High School to face Lakeside Post 125. They fell behind 5-1 after two innings, but stayed focused and finally overtook Lakeside with a four-run seventh to take a 6-5 lead en route to an 8-5 victory. Cody Powers pitched huge relief innings to silence the once-hot Lakeside bats, allowing for the Mechanicsville comeback.
Tuesday night found the team in Colonial Heights against a Post 284 Pirates team they had manhandled early in the season. They built an 8-0 lead through five innings, and starter Taylor Crowe gave head coach Eddie Gates seven strong innings. But Post 284 battled back against relievers Zona and Josh Shepherd, but fell short, as Post 175 won for the second straight night on the road by a final of 8-5.
A team once 1-2 and searching for direction is now 13-2, but continues to face a rough end-of-season schedule. Thursday is the return trip to Deep Run High to face Post 361. Friday brings Lakeside to Mechanicsville for a makeup doubleheader at 5:30 p.m. They’ll face Colonial Heights Post 284 Buccaneers in a Saturday doubleheader at 4 p.m., then finish the furious finish to the regular season Sunday at 3 p.m. against South Richmond Post 137, the other team to give Mechanicsville a notch in the loss column. The good news the final five games are all at home. Even better news? Post 175 will have three days off before starting the District 11 Tournament on Thursday, July 18.
In Ashland, times are tougher for Post 206, fighting their way through their inaugural year in District 13. The district’s pre-season favorites, Charlottesville Post 74, once again came to Patrick Henry and pounded Post 206 Saturday 18-3. A 2-2 tie in the fifth inning quickly went downhill as a three-run home run by designated hitter Josh Gibson turned the game squarely in Post 74’s favor, and they never looked back.
The same script unfolded Tuesday night against Courtland Post 55, as the Eagles took a 3-0 lead in the second inning on five straight hits off starter Chris Peterson. Post 206 drew within 3-2 in the fourth when Tyler Starling’s two-out double scored Ryan Stowell and Buck Didlake.
But after extending their lead to 6-2, Courtland exploded for 10 runs in the sixth off three different Post 206 pitchers, and the Eagles cruised to a 16-4, seven-inning victory. Chris Estep had a homer for Post 206, which faces two more road games in Spotsylvania Thursday and Fluvanna Monday to wrap up their regular season.