Quietly and methodically, a new era has begun for Mechanicsville Post 175 baseball. So far, it’s produced the same results.
Scoring five unanswered runs in the seventh and eighth innings Monday night, Post 175 came back to defeat Powhatan Post 201 6-4 to advance to 2-0 on the season. Rather than rely on offensive outbursts or simply outslugging the competition, Post 175 looks to lean more on defense, and a ridiculous amount of depth on the mound, to fuel success in 2014.
“We have 12 or 13 arms capable,” said new Mechanicsville head coach Bobby White after Monday’s win. “We’ve pretty much settled on a rotation of four. We’ll use all of our arms, but we won’t wear anyone out. We want to be ready come tournament time.”
Expect to see Taylor Crowe, who started 175’s season-opening win Sunday over the Colonial Heights Post 284 Buccaneers, Cody Powers, Collin Bazemore, and Monday night’s starter Joey Pride to be the four-man rotation. Pride pitched five innings in his first outing.
But a quick glance of this year’s roster shows a variety of bullpen options, from 2013 Atlee grad Evan Swecker, Patrick Holler and Josh Lam of Lee-Davis, and Trevor Denton, Thomas Renfro and Anthony Zona from 4A State Champion Hanover.
Backing up that pitching is quality defense, with Andrew Sergent at first base, Josh Shepherd at second, Cody Thompson, on his way to Randolph-Macon after graduating from Atlee, at third, and Louisa’s Christian Buckler at shortstop. Jakob Pridemore joins Zona and Powers in the outfield, with Holler and the speedy Haiden Lamb on tap as well. Brady Didlake and Roy Coates will handle catching duties.
Monday, Post 201, consisting of players from Midlothian, James River and Powhatan high schools, built a 3-1 advantage, scoring two runs on four singles in the fourth off Pride, then a then-insurance run in the seventh off Holler when he uncorked a wild pitch to score Parker Mead from third.
Post 175 left seven runners on base from the third to the sixth innings, but the dugout vowed the seventh would be different after Shepherd began the frame with a line single to center. It would be a two-out rally with Powers singling to left, bringing up Sergent, representing the go-ahead run.
“I looked for my pitch because he (201 starter Teddy Dennis) was getting kind of wild,” Sergent explained. “I looked for a fastball since he’d thrown me so much off-speed, and he finally through one right at the numbers, and that’s where I like it.”
The ball sailed into deep left-center field for a double. A misplay by center fielder Logan Allen gave Powers enough time to race home from first with the tying run, a benefit of the new home outfield for Post 175, now playing their games at Hanover.
“When the grass dries up here, the ball scoots in the outfield,” Sergent said. “If you haven’t played here, you don’t know that.”
Next, an Anthony Zona fly ball to center looked like the third out, but Allen lost it in the lights, allowing Sergent to score from second to take the lead for good. But it would be runs given to Post 175 in the eighth that would seal the win.
Post 201 reliever Cullen Large struggled in relief, walking five batters to produce the final 175 runs. Sergent was issued the fourth walk, bringing home Buckler with the game-clinching run. Powhatan got one back in the ninth, but the game ended thanks to defense when Zona, after gathering an RBI single in left field, fired to third base to Thompson who tagged out Jose Castro for the game’s final out.
While optimistic, White says he feels no pressure taking over a team that has made the State Tournament each of the past two seasons.
“We want to win, but it’s all about representing Post 175 and Mechanicsville,” White pronounced.
Sergent, meanwhile, looking to walk-on at West Virginia University this fall, is grateful for the opportunity that the American Legion provides.
“With wanting to play in college, I just wanted to keep playing baseball,” Sergent said.