Post 21 piles up hits, rallies past Potomac Valley
WINCHESTER — Justin Angel summed up Winchester Post 21’s performance pretty well following the team’s 10-7 non-district win over Potomac Valley Post 64 at R. Charles Hott Field Tuesday night.
It was a 17-hit effort by Winchester, but Angel and his teammates produced just one extra-base hit as the team rallied for its 14th victory in 15 games.
“We were just hitting them where they weren’t,” said Angel, who came off the bench to go 3 for 3 with three RBIs, a run and a stolen base. “And it worked.”
Post 21 (14-1) overcame an early 5-0 deficit after two innings, chipping away at Potomac Valley’s lead with a run in both the second and fourth innings before erupting with a seven-run fifth.
Angel led off the inning with an infield single, leadoff hitter Taylor Loudan walked and Nick Goode singled to right to load the bases.
Cody Unger drove in Angel with an infield single, and Chase Smallwood tied the game, driving in Loudan and Goode with a single to right past Potomac Valley’s drawn-in infield to tie the game 5-5. John Bentley singled to left to load the bases once again, and Ethan Emmart reached on a fielder’s choice but Potomac Valley (10-18) forced out Unger at the plate.
With one out, Ryan Hartigan’s single to left scored Smallwood, and Bentley also scored after an error to put Winchester ahead 7-5.
In all, Post 21 sent 10 batters to the plate and Angel capped off Winchester’s seven-spot by driving in two more runs in his second at bat of the inning off reliever Ryan Hedrick to extend Post 21’s lead to 9-5.
“For me to just lead off the inning like that I was just trying to get on base any possible way and ultimately score,” said Angel, who had two of Post 21’s seven hits in the inning. “Before [that inning] they were in the driver’s seat but we definitely took control in that inning.”
After having just four hits through the first four innings against Potomac Valley starting pitcher Daniel Hevener, Post 21 chased Hevener without really hitting a ball out of the infield.
“We’re pretty young and we seem to shoot ourselves in the foot one inning,” said Potomac Valley coach Kevin Reed. “Winchester’s got a good program, and we can play and hit with most teams but defensively we have one bad inning and we’re just not winning close games.”
Post 21’s big fifth inning made a winner out of Winchester starter Jordan Clark (2-0), who settled in and allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits through five innings.
Clark, a lefty from Sherando, allowed just two hits and no runs in the third, fourth and fifth before Daniel Malsch came on in relief in the sixth.
Malsch, a right hander from James Wood, allowed two unearned runs after Post 21 made a pair of errors in the sixth to cut Winchester’s lead to 9-7.
Angel drove in his third run with an RBI single that scored Daniel Nawrocki with an insurance run in the seventh.
From there, Malsch only allowed one hit before running into trouble in the top of the ninth.
He walked Ryan Colaw and Brandon George to start the inning, and Post 21 manager Steve Smallwood turned to closer Ethan Emmart.
With the tying run coming to the plate, Emmart overpowered the next three Potomac Valley hitters.
He struck out Brian George with a fastball, but Colaw (2 for 4 with an RBI) and Brandon George advanced on a passed ball third strikes. With runners on second and third, Emmart, a former Clarke County standout who just finished his first season at Potomac State, struck out Justin Smith and John Starkey on fastballs to end the game.
“I knew if Dan walked that second guy — I was coming in and I was mentally prepared,” Emmart said. “I’ve just got to come in with a bulldog mentality and shut it down. You can’t be nervous as a pitcher and especially as a closer in those situations.”
Emmart said the team’s offense takes a lot of pressure off the pitching staff.
“I have confidence in every guy that steps to the plate on this team,” Emmart said. “We can hit one through nine and our bench players can hit. Scoring runs isn’t a problem. We’ve just got to shut teams down [with our pitching] and we’ve been doing a pretty good job of that.”
Post 21 coach Kyle Smallwood said his team did a pretty good job of making adjustments at the plate against Hevener, who kept Winchester off balance the first time through the batting order.
“We struggled trying to pick up [Hevener’s] pitches,” Kyle Smallwood said. “He got ahead with his fastball and then starting mixing his pitches with a split finger and then a curveball — and both of those pitches were pretty good.
“Early on we were trying to swing at his pitches and getting ourselves out instead of looking for pitches to hit. We worked the count and forced him to pitch to us, and we were looking for our pitches to hit.”
Chase Smallwood went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs. Loudan, Goode, Unger and Bentley all had two hits apiece for Winchester.
Alex See went 2 for 4 with a two-run home run, three RBIs and two runs scored to lead Potomac Valley.
— Contact Robert Stocks at firstname.lastname@example.org
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