In preserving its unbeaten record, Woodbridge Post 364 scored the winning run against Woodstock on Saturday not because a ball hit the fence but because a chair did.
With one out and runners on the corners in the bottom of the seventh inning of a tie game with Post 199, a Woodbridge batter lofted a foul popup near the Woodstock dugout. First baseman Travis Mumaw made the grab as his momentum carried him into the bench area, where he bumped a chair into the fence. It appeared that one more out would force an extra inning, because the defensive players hustled back onto the field to prevent Tim McLain from scoring from third base.
But Woodbridge Manager Gene Mulholland then suggested to the home plate umpire that because the ball was carried out of play, each runner should be allowed to move up a base. The umpire agreed, so McLain was awarded home to give Post 364 a 14-13 victory in a game winless Woodstock had led 10-1.
"When he hit the chair, it was obvious to me he had gone out of the field of play and into the bench," Mulholland said. "I could hear it. The rule says the runner advances when [the fielder] falls out of play. That's Mr. Doubleday's doing, not mine."
Post 199 Manager Larry Springer disputed the ruling and still considers it a "bogus" call.
"[The umpire] let the coach make the call for him," said Springer, adding that he thought it had been a well-called game to that point. "I kind of felt we got robbed.
"The kid didn't fall all the way into the dead ball area. He was never out totally. The dead ball area is not more than two feet wide, and Travis is 6 feet 5."
Springer said he has considered protesting the game but doubts that he will because he doesn't want to hinder his first-year program as the players and coaches work toward establishing it.
"You just want to let the kids win the game on the field," he said. "That's a horrible call for a team struggling to win a baseball game."
The unusual finish to the game overshadowed the pitching performance turned in by Woodbridge hurler Billy Freeman. Or make that pitching performances. He notched wins in both ends of the doubleheader by throwing four innings of relief in a 6-1 victory over Sterling Post 150 and four innings of relief against Woodstock.
Woodbridge, which has a team batting average of .360, had 19 hits in the win over Post 199. McLain went 4 for 4.
All Eyes on Poppert
Hylton High School catcher John Poppert, a rising senior playing for the Fairfax Eagles travel team, impressed several college scouts last weekend at the 10-team Poker Invitational in Boca Raton, Fla.
The Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference "teams were asking a lot of questions about him," Eagles Coach Bill Ramsay said. "They were really interested in him. Defensively, he was easily the best catcher in the tournament."
The Eagles (19-5) went 5-2 in the tournament and advanced to the championship, which was rained out.
Woodbridge High School pitcher Alan Day threw five innings of one-hit ball Saturday in a 2-0 win over the Memphis Tigers. Potomac High School pitcher Steve Gonzalez pitched a complete game in a 5-2 loss to a Maryland team. North Stafford High School pitcher John Maine struggled in his outing.
Manassas Post 114 has won five consecutive games, three by one run, to improve to 6-5.
"They have a lot more confidence," Manager Larry Crowder said. "They started believing they could win these games."
The wins have come against Loudoun, 20-10 and 9-8; Euclid, 6-5 in 10 innings; Spotsylvania, 14-12; and Purcellville, 5-4.
Kevin Louey, Matt Graham, Jeff Herzig, Joe Lane and Brian Dunleavy have been among the Post 114 standouts lately, and Jake Daniel again has demonstrated his versatility.
Daniel, a catcher and second baseman who surprised Crowder with two fine catches in right field to clinch the first game of the winning streak, recently made his first pitching appearance of the season.
American Legion Baseball 16th District Standings
Fredericksburg Post 55 8-0
Stafford Post 290 7-1
Spotsylvania Post 320 5-4
Culpeper Post 330 1-7
Woodbridge Post 364 8-0
Smoketown Sluggers 5-5
Dumfries Post 28 3-3
Euclid Diamond Dawgs 0-8
Warrenton Post 72 6-2
Loudoun Post 34 4-3
Manassas Post 114 6-5
Sterling Post 150 4-4
Winchester Post 21 6-3
Purcellville Post 293 3-6
Strasburg Post 77 0-7
Woodstock Post 199 0-8
-- Through Monday
CAPTION: Mike Garcia of Woodbridge Post 364 hits the ball into center field. Woodbridge, which had 19 hits in its win over Post 199, is 8-0 with a team batting average of .360.
CAPTION: Brett Abner of Woodbridge Post 364 reaches for a popup during Saturday's 14-13 victory over Woodstock Post 199.