Albemarles Late Comeback Not Enough

Albemarle's late comeback not enough

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It was just like Albemarle Post 74’s first round game with Richmond Post 316, except this time, the shoe was on the other foot. The Post 74 bats were nearly as hot as the day before, but behind defensive and pitching struggles, Albemarle fell to Lynchburg Post 16, 18-14, after making a late rally that ultimately came up short in the second round of the American Legion state tournament.

For the second straight game Albemarle Post 74 surrendered more than 10 runs. The team now has a must win game in the third round of the American Legion state tournament.

“It’s been one of the weirdest two days of a tournament that I’ve seen yet in my time coaching,” said Albemarle coach Mike Maynard. “We’re playing one phase of the game.”

The two teams went mostly punch for punch early on as Lynchburg scored five runs in its first two turns at the plate, and Albemarle came up with four, but the difference in the end of the game was an 8-run surge from Post 16 in the top of the fourth inning.

“I think that’s the key in these games – to jump on these kids early,” said Lynchburg coach Chris Glaize. “And we’ve been doing that a lot lately. We’ve been hitting really well, too. We’re averaging right around 13 and 14 hits a game.”

After coming on in relief of Andrew Kayliss in the middle of the third, Jason White looked like he was settling into a grove. White closed the third inning with a pair of strikeouts and held Lynchburg scoreless in the fourth. But the righty tweaked his elbow in the early part of the fifth, forcing Albemarle to dig deep for relief after having already thrown five pitchers the day before, including White.

Lynchburg pieced together it’s big rally with six singles, two of which drove in two runs with three more bring home one runner. Post 16 was also given some help with a pair of infield errors, something Albemarle has had little trouble with before the state tournament began.

“We threw more strikes than yesterday,” Maynard said. “But we made four costly errors. You can’t give a good baseball team, an American Legion team, more outs.”

In dire need of someone to stop the bleeding, Albemarle turned to one of its youngest pitchers, Colin Tucker. The move worked, and the Madison County product allowed just two runs over four innings to stabilize the deficit.

Down by nine runs in the bottom of the sixth and getting dangerously close to having the game called via slaughter rule, Post 74 started work its way back into the contest.

“That big 8-run inning kind of took the wind out of (Albemarle’s) sail, but we knew they were going to keep swinging the bats well,” Glaize said. “We knew it wasn't over and that we were going to have to battle.”

Both Logan Forloines and Joey Varaksa scored after reaching base on an error and walk respectively when Jake Hendrix and Josh Sites came through with back-to-back RBI singles to cut the lead to seven.

Lynchburg added one insurance run in the top of the seventh, but Albemarle posted a 4-run rally to cut the lead in half. Tucker started the inning off with a lead off single, and after a walk drawn by Vince Coles, Danny Morris drove in both runners on an error. In the next at-bat, Forloines pulled a ball down the first baseline to snag an RBI triple. Varaksa rounded out the scoring with a ground-out to bring home Forloines.

In the eighth, Albemarle looked poised for another big inning with the bases loaded and no outs, but a pair of quick outs limited the team to just one run in the inning with Lynchburg still up three.

Post 16 re-inflated the lead back up to four in the top of the ninth on a blast to center from Dylan Phillips. In the bottom half, with just three outs remaining, Albemarle was again able to load the bases, this time with one out, but after surrendering six errors in the previous eighth innings, Lynchburg came up with its biggest defensive play of the night by ending the game on a 6-4-3 double play.

For Lynchburg, six players had at least two runs batted in. Chris Walker had one hit but it was a bases-clearing, 3-run triple. Rick Adams had three RBI on two singles. Both Phillips and William Sligh had solo homeruns. Sligh also ripped a pair of doubles.

For Albemarle, Coles was 3 for 5 with three RBI and two runs scored. Forloines finsished 3 for 5 with two RBI and three runs scored. Jake Hendrix had a big day with a 3 for 6 outing  and a trio of RBIs.

Albemarle now faces elimination as it heads into the third round. Post 74 with square off against Chesapeake Post 280 today at 10 a.m. While Maynard and his team aren’t thrilled about being backed up against a wall, the squad is looking forward to not having to wait long to play the next game.

“They’re pretty excited,” Maynard said. “After I talked to the team Vince came up to me and said, ‘Coach, I cannot wait until this next game.’ So we’ll see what happens. We know it’s an uphill battle.”

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