After posting a dismal 2-9 record, they got just what they needed in a American Legion District 16 showdown with the Stafford Post 290-1 Patriots on Sunday.
Using a 13-hit attack, timely pitching and a stingy defense, the Virginians rolled to a decisive 9-3 win over their county rival at the Stafford Legion Complex.
“We haven’t played that bad,” said Virginians second-year coach Allen Peake. “It’s just the other teams were making more timely plays. But the players have maintained a good attitude and haven’t stopped playing hard. Today we made the timely plays and the big inning [eight] really helped.”
With the Patriots’ 9-1 mark providing the motivation, the Virginians got on the board quickly, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning highlighted by an RBI single by leftfielder John Zorich.
Over the next three innings the Patriots, which captured the Legion regular season and tournament title two years ago, scored one run in each frame and tied the score at 3-3. Jack Ferrick drove in a run in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly, Justin Doyle added a RBI single in the second while Eddie Rubbo came around to score on a sacrifice fly to even the game after three innings.
The Virginians added a run in the sixth to go up 4-3. Kevin Sullivan led off by being hit by the pitch and Nate Edwards followed with a bunt single. With one out, centerfielder Mike Walker singled to load the bases. The Patriots brought in Allen Smaltz to pitch to Jayson Beck, who brought in Sullivan on a sacrifice fly before Smaltz got Brett Mitchell out on a pop fly back to the mound.
With the score 4-3 in favor of the Virginians, the visitors added another run when Charlie Elmore homered over the right-center field fence for a 5-3 lead. Then the Virginians, which had lost five one-run games so far this year, exploded for four runs in the eighth to put the game out of reach. In that inning, Walker had a single and scored a run, Elmore reached on error and scored a run while Mitchell and Sean Sutphin both doubled and scored a run.
Steve Whelpley, who played high school ball at Fredericksburg Christian, closed out the game for the win. Whelpley, using an effective off-speed pitch to go along with his fastball, struck out three of the game’s final six batters. He finished the day with five strikeouts in relief of Danny Sanders, who started the game for the Virginians.
The defensive play of the day came in the bottom of the seventh when the Patriots loaded the bases with one out. With Justin Doyle at third, Chester Rubbo at second and Eddie Rubbo at first, cleanup hitter Jack Ferrick hit a sinking liner into left field.
Virginians left fielder Zorich dove but the ball rolled out of his glove. The left-hander bounced up and relayed the ball to the cutoff man Nate Edwards, who threw a perfect strike to catcher Davis Newton to nail Doyle at the plate. Whelpley got the next batter to ground out to thwart the rally.
Sutphin, a rising sophomore at Stafford High School, paced all hitters going 3 for 5 with three RBI. Walker, Mitchell and Zorich all had a pair of hits and an RBI for the Virginians.
Eddie Rubbo had two hits for the Patriots, which fell to 9-5 on the season.
Teammates Chester Rubbo, Ferrick, Doyle and Curtis Price all had singles for the Patriots.
The Virginians are back in action on Wednesday against the Stafford Post 290 Americans at the Stafford Legion Complex. The Patriots travel to Forest Park Post 28-3 on Tuesday.