CHESTERFIELD – For the Post 201 Seniors, Friday’s 10-4 American Legion Baseball district tournament loss to hosting Post 137 was a tough note on which to end the season.
But head coach Eric Mead was very proud of his players – and he felt they accomplished some things that they weren’t sure they would be able to achieve, given that they were a young team in comparison to the competition surrounding them.
“I think that, at the end of the season, we played really good baseball and we started really coming together as a team,” Mead said. “Tonight (Friday) was just an off-night; we needed another one in a row like we had against 361, and we just came out flat tonight, but...the biggest message that we just talked about was the fact that we’re a very young team and…the younger players need to evaluate themselves and play 110 percent and play up to the competition level that they’re playing, and for the most part I’m very proud of all of them because I think that the younger players a lot of times did."
And by playing at this level of competition this year, they’re going be better baseball players because of it, Mead said.
“The future is bright," he added. "Anytime you’ve got a young team and you can go .500 for the season, then you’ve done a pretty daggone good job. I’m very proud of the boys.”
Post 201 kicked off district tournament play with a big victory against Post 361 on Wednesday, July 24, rallying out of a 2-0 deficit to win 9-5 on nine unanswered runs across the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. After Alex Kyte put his team on the board in the fourth on a double to center field to plate Donovan Murphy, Tommy Preston in the fifth tied the game by dashing home on a passed ball, and then Stone Talley walked in Trevor Waters to push the Dirt Sox into a 3-2 lead. Kyte added yet another RBI single, and Waters in the sixth delivered a two-run line drive to plate both Preston and Colby Cheatham and help Post 201 balloon its lead.
Preston batted 3-for-4 and scored twice, Waters batted 1-for-2 with two RBIs and scored twice while also walking twice, Murphy batted 1-for-1 and walked three times while also scoring three times, Kyte batted 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and Chase Gayness had a pair of RBIs.
Facing Post 137 for the right to advance to the district championship game on Friday, July 26, Post 201 fell behind 5-0, but rallied to cut 137’s lead to 5-3 before the home team steadily pulled away.
Colby Cheatham on Friday hit a solo home run. Waters batted 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a run scored. Gayness batted 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored.
The young Seniors team this summer picked up notable victories against college baseball player-led teams – including the Post 284 Bucs with a late-season 14-4 triumph – and also had key wins against Posts 125 (Lakeside) and 175 (Mechanicsville).
The young Dirt Sox were led by four dedicated players who are aging out of the Legion program this summer. First baseman Donovan Murphy was a home run threat every single time he stepped up the plate. Trevor Waters, a one-year player in Legion, anchored the team at the catcher position and on Friday slammed two doubles to the fence while also throwing out a runner trying to steal second from behind the plate in the bottom of the first inning. Tommy Preston made key plays in the field, at the plate and on the mound – from where he “threw his heart out” and over 90 pitches Friday according to Mead. Jacob Frame established himself as a mainstay in Post 201’s pitching rotation.
“It’s sad to see those guys go; every single year you go through it,” Mead said. “Especially when you’ve got guys who play for you for three or four years and then they age out, it’s sad.”
But some of the players who had left in previous years have come back to contribute to the team in a different capacity.
“One of the good things that we’ve got going on at 201: Parker Mead, he played 201; he came back and coached. Boonie Hagy was a 201 alumni; he’s come back and coached. Jake Talley’s come back for the last two years – he’s finishing up at Bridgewater his senior year this year,” Mead said. “That’s really good when you see those guys who play it and then want to come back and contribute to it even after they’ve aged out. We hope we continue that with these guys.”