After rolling decisively through the first three rounds of the American Legion District 11 Baseball Tournament, Mechanicsville Post 175 just needed a win over a team they defeated in their last game for their third straight title.
But whereas the ball spent most of the season finding the gaps, Tuesday night, Post 175 couldn’t find open space until it was too late, a five-run ninth inning rally not enough in a 9-6 loss to West End Post 361, forcing a winner-take-all championship game between the two.
“It was too little, too late to be honest,” Post 175 head coach Bobby White said of the final frame outburst. “It’s always good to still see fight in the guys, but I wish it would’ve come in the fifth or sixth inning, when there would be chances afterwards to finish the job.”
The first four innings flew as starters Patrick Holler of Post 175 and Patrick Hall of Post 361 matched each other pitch for pitch, Holler striking out six 361 batters. Mechanicsville lost a chance to score early when, with Haiden Lamb on third base with one out, Andrew Sergent flew out to right field. Eric Crain threw a bullet to the plate, easily nailing Lamb, the defending state champion in the 100-meter dash, for a double play to end the first inning.
Hall would help himself and start the scoring in the fifth, launching a Holler delivery over the right field fence for a solo home run and a 1-0 lead. Holler would get out of the fifth on a 6-4-3 double play, but wouldn’t make it out of what ended up being a tumultuous sixth.
After a flyout, Holler issued two walks, forcing 175 to the bullpen. Thomas Renfro was greeted by clean-up hitter Kyle Battle as he launched a double to the left-center field wall for a 3-0 lead. After two more singles and a throwing error by Josh Shepherd on a would-be third out grounder to short, Post 361 finished the frame with five runs, and a 6-0 lead.
White didn’t regret waiting into the sixth to pull Holler, as to that point he had only given up the solo home run and two other singles.
“When you look at the book, he was doing well. But he was getting to the end of his rope, they started to square him up a little bit,” White said.
Read the full story in the July 24 Herald-Progress. Call 798-9031 to subscribe.