Manassas Post 114 not only picked up its first true American Legion victory of the season Saturday, but it also gained an outfielder.
Manager Larry Crowder tries to work each player into each game. Headed into the bottom of the eighth inning against Purcellville Post 293, he had not yet inserted Jake Daniel, and the coach already had substituted at catcher and second base, Daniel's usual positions.
So Crowder dispatched the willing Daniel to right field, where he made two difficult plays -- one an over-the-shoulder running grab and the other a diving catch of a sinking line drive -- for the final outs in a 5-4 win over Purcellville. At the time, Post 293 had the tying and winning runs on base.
"When I asked him if he'd play in the outfield, he said, `Yeah, anybody can play the outfield,' " Crowder said with a laugh. "When he came in [after the inning] he said, `See, I told you anybody could play out there.' "
"I just wanted to get into the game," said Daniel, a rising junior at Seton who last played in the outfield four years ago in Little League.
Daniel was not the only standout in the game for Post 114, whose other win had come by forfeit. Joe Lane gave up just three hits and one run in seven innings, with 10 strikeouts. Kevin Louey and Juan Rodriguez each had two-run hits, and Josh Brown went 2 for 3 with two stolen bases.
That was not center fielder Brown's most important contribution, however.
"When I went to the outfield, I told [Brown] he'd have to tell me everything," Daniel said. "If not for him, I wouldn't have been standing in the right place."
Home Run Happy
Stafford Post 290 has ripped five home runs in winning five of its first six games. Manager Mike Elliott isn't surprised J.R. Royston, Gabe Hippeard and Shawn Maye have slugged homers. But the fourth player was an unknown.
John Rerucha, who played on the Stafford High School junior varsity team, cranked a shot Sunday in Winchester that Elliott said cleared the fence 368 feet away and sailed over another fence.
"He probably hadn't had 10 at-bats," Elliott said. "He hit a lot of line drives during tryouts, but I didn't think he'd be capable of hitting a home run."
In a 4-3 win in the first of two games Sunday, Stafford trailed Winchester Post 21 until Luke Rezeli tied the game with a two-run triple. Royston, who has two homers this summer, drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly.
Post 290 then took another seven-inning win, this one a 12-4 win over Smoketown. Royston, unable to throw much of the spring because of an injury, pitched four shutout innings against Smoketown in his second appearance of the Legion season.
"He probably could have finished it, but I didn't see the sense in him throwing 125 pitches," Elliott said. "We didn't even let him pitch batting practice for a month."
Mike Goll had six hits Sunday.
The four Division A teams in the 16th District -- Fredericksburg Post 55, Stafford, Spotsylvania Post 320 and Culpeper Post 330 -- are 7-1 against teams outside the division.
Stafford's lone loss was to Fredericksburg, 14-2.
Post 290 would have an additional win if not for rain June 13 that washed out its game with unbeaten Woodbridge Post 364. Stafford led, 7-0, in the top of the second with runners on second and third and no one out when the game was called.
American Legion Baseball
Division A W L
Post 55 Fredericksburg 4 0
Post 290 Stafford 5 1
Post 320 Spotsylvania 3 2
Post 330 Culpeper 1 4
Division B W L
Post 364 Woodbridge 5 0
Post 28 Dumfries (Potomac) 1 1
Smoketown Sluggers (Gar-Field) 1 4
Euclid Diamond Dawgs 0 5
Division C W L
Post 34 Loudoun 4 0
Post 72 Warrenton 4 1
Post 150 Sterling 2 2
Post 114 Manassas 2 5
Division D W L
Post 21 Winchester 3 1
Post 199 Woodstock 1 3
Post 293 Purcellville 1 3
Post 77 Strasburg 0 3
-- Through Monday