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In this 2013 baseball season plagued by precipitation, even when Mechanicsville Post 175 isn’t playing, their schedule gets disrupted.
After a double forfeit and two strong wins propelled District 11’s top seed into the final round of the annual tournament, Sunday night’s storms suspended an elimination game between Lakeside Post 125 and Powhatan Post 201, forcing its conclusion to Monday night. As the dominoes fell, Post 175 discovered their first chance at the tournament title would come, not Tuesday, but Wednesday night at L.C. Bird High School in Chester.
How will yet another extra 24-hour delay affect Post 175?
“We have had a rotation in place for the season. It does not affect how we will pitch. Regardless of who we have on the mound I am confident that they can get a win,” said head coach Eddie Gates. “I just hope three to four days off won’t hurt us.”
Recent history indicates they’ll be fine. Coming off their first loss in 17 games, Mechanicsville rode solid pitching with timely hitting to advance to the finals, dispatching Powhatan Post 201 7-3 Friday night, then second-seeded West End Post 361 11-3 on Saturday. Atlee grad and East Carolina-bound Luke Bolka pitched 6 2/3 innings for the victory and helped his own cause in the third when he launched a three-run home run over the center field fence, bringing in Michael Thomas and Bryant Lowry, who had singled and walked to start the frame.
It was 5-1 in the eighth when Sean King entered as 175’s third pitcher of the night. Post 201 mounted its final comeback as Colin Lawless singled, then Nicky Maiolo homered to left center to make the margin 5-3. Gates wasted no time going back to the bullpen, asking usual starter Thomas to finish off Powhatan. Thomas retired three straight in the eighth, then doubled to score Dalton Ruch for one of two insurance runs. In the ninth, Post 201 took advantage of a walk and error to get runners on second and third, but Thomas struck out Lawless to end the game.
Mechanicsville’s subsequent 11-3 win over Post 361 was, in many ways, more impressive than the 13-3 beating they administered to them in their regular season finale nine days earlier. Thomas returned to the mound as starter and picked up his second straight victory over West End, striking out 12 over eight innings. Bolka brought the bat again, going three-for-five including another home run. It was a monster third inning that was the early knockout blow, as Post 175 scored seven runs to break a 2-2 tie, taking advantage of three Post 361 errors in the process.
“The key areas in the 361 game were timely hitting, getting on the scoreboard first, and staying in front,” Gates said. “The focus might have been higher because first place was on the line.”
Post 175 will have had nearly four days of rest when they take the field Wednesday night (after presstime), and, in a surprising twist, they found their championship opponents to not be West End Post 361, but Lakeside Post 125. Lakeside upset West End to win the elimination bracket Tuesday night, 6-3.
Post 175 swept Post 125 during the regular season, coming from behind to win their first game at Douglas Freeman July 8, then sweeping them convincingly in a doubleheader at home July 15. Gates and company, though, will take absolutely nothing for granted. Lakeside will have to play at their absolute best if they wish to prevent Mechanicsville from making a return visit to the American Legion State Tournament, which is scheduled to begin Monday, weather permitting, in Williamsburg.
For complete results of Wednesday’s game, go to facebook.com/heraldprogress or to twitter.com/heraldprogress.