21 July 2016
The undermanned Post 2003 Fluvanna American Legion team traveled to Albemarle High School on Friday, July 15. At one point, it looked like they had a major upset brewing. A four run top of the seventh gave the Fluvanna squad a 9-6 lead over Albemarle Post 74. Unfortunately the Fluvanna team, which Coach Eric Miles said has been devastated by injuries this summer, had to finish the game with infielders pitching. The Albemarle team, which was the higher seed, and featured some serious hitters, came roaring back, scoring six in the bottom of the seventh and six in the bottom of the eighth for a convincing 18-9 win.
The Fluvanna team came to the game with exactly nine players, so Miles had very few choices when it came to relief pitchers. He had no one to warm up while he consulted with a tiring pitcher. He simply had to come out of the dugout and hand the ball to a player already on the field.
Hitting was not a problem for the Fluvanna team in this game, as the team had 15 hits and nine runs. The Post 2003 squad jumped to an early lead scoring two in the top of the first. Center fielder Sam James opened the game with a solid single. He stole second and scored on a single by third baseman Hayden Miles. Two infield errors loaded the bases and Jake Fulk’s infield single plated the second run.
Albemarle came back with two runs to tie the game. In the second inning Fluvanna catcher Colin Finke hit a blast down the left field line that easily cleared the fence and appeared to be a two-run home run. Unfortunately, the home plate umpire surprised virtually everyone at the field by calling the blast a foul ball. Finke came back to the plate and singled to left, but Fluvanna failed to score in the second.
In the top of the third Post 2003 put up two more runs as shortstop Reed Huffman had a single and the Albemarle starting pitcher walked three and his reliever walked one, for two runs walked in. Albemarle again responded in kind scoring two on two singles and a booming double. Albemarle also scored two in the bottom of the fourth to go ahead 6-4.
First baseman Jake Byrnes led off the sixth for Post 2003 with a sharply hit ball down the right field line that eluded a diving right fielder and went for a triple. Byrnes scored on an infield ground out to close the gap to one run. In the bottom of the sixth, Post 74 worked three straight walks to open the inning and the outlook was grim for Post 2003. However, Coach Miles came to the mound and handed the ball to Eric Miles, his third baseman. Eric Miles struck out the first batter and induced the next batter to ground to Eric Graves who had just moved from second to third base. Graves gloved the ball, touched third and fired to first for an inning ending double play.
This turnaround was followed by a four run top of the seventh, giving the Fluvanna team its three-run lead and the two half innings taken together gave the crowd a brief sense that an unexpected result might be coming. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case. In the four-run seventh Fulk got a solid one out single and two walks loaded the bases. Successive singles by James, Byrnes and Finke resulted in four runs in and only one out. Unfortunately, that was the end of the rally for Post 2003, and the flood gates opened for Post 74 in the bottom of the seventh and the bottom of the eighth, resulting in the 18-9 final score.
This was the first game in a double elimination post-season tournament. The Fluvanna team came in as the number six seed and the Albemarle team was the number three seed. The Fluvanna team is made up primarily of players who played in high school for Fluvanna County High and for Fork Union Military Academy in southern Fluvanna County. Some players have also been recruited from surrounding counties. The team is not connected to the Fluvanna County schools in any way, although the final rounds of the double elimination tournament were played at the Fluvanna high field.