The make-or-break week for Dumfries Post 28 started with too few pitchers. It ended with the team in playoff contention with two weeks left.
"We survived the week," Post 28 Manager Pat Tierno said. "I don't know how. It's the type of week that gives us a little confidence."
Post 28 went 5-1 and moved into second place in the American Legion Division B standings at 8-7. Tierno's goal is to make the playoffs, something Post 28 has not done since 1996.
And the rest of the way may be easier with pitchers Mike Hernandez and Justin Reeves back after missing the week to play for all-star teams.
Post 28 defeated the Euclid Diamond Dawgs three times, Loudoun Post 34 once and got a forfeit victory over Purcellville Post 293. The Smoketown Sluggers defeated Post 28, 11-3.
In the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday against the Diamond Dawgs, Post 28 was down 9-1 at the end of the second inning. Tierno inserted his son, P.J., who had not pitched in several years. He responded with four scoreless innings. Chris Garris pitched the last inning for a save as Post 28 rallied, 13-11.
Garris then pitched a complete-game win in the second game of the doubleheader. On Saturday against Loudoun Post 34, he pitched another complete-game win.
"I know [P.J.] is not going to walk anybody," Tierno said. "He's not going to throw hard, but he's going to throw strikes. That's what we're looking for. We felt if they put the ball in play we'd have a chance, and that's what happened.
"Offensively, we had a real good week. All our guys from one to nine down the line hit the ball real well."
Post 28 hit three home runs last week--it had hit only one previously--courtesy of Mike Fravel, Travis Cook and Tony Blackwell. During the week, Fravel went 9 for 16, Derrick Dent went 9 for 19 with five RBI, Phil Arellano went 9 for 20, Blackwell went 6 for 16, Kevin Estep went 7 for 17 and P.J. Tierno drove in nine runs.
At last weekend's Commonwealth Games, Steve Gonzalez solved some mechanical problems on the mound while helping the North team to a four-game sweep of the statewide competition.
The rising senior at Potomac said his high school stats were better his sophomore year than this past season because of a hitch in his throwing motion. His coaches noticed he had been pitching with a slight sidearm delivery. Another problem was with the mechanics of his leg kick.
But with as many as 40 scouts watching this weekend, Gonzalez turned in a smooth performance. He allowed two hits and two walks and struck out seven in five shutout innings, pitching out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fourth.
Gonzalez said he thought he was throwing about 81 mph and was surprised when a coach told him he was throwing about 87 mph.
"I felt my body was filled with radar from the guns," Gonzalez joked. "On every pitch you could see the lights go up and then hear it clicking when it's done. My dad gave me a high-five and said he hasn't seen that in a while."
Stafford Post 290 Manager Mike Elliott did not have to tell his team much after they lost, 12-9, to Warrenton Post 72 on Saturday.
"I pretty much leave them alone," Elliott said. "Unless it's a real bonehead move. Then they seem to realize it, too. I could understand a mistake. They don't seem to grasp it."
There weren't many mistakes in their 20-6 win Sunday over Woodstock Post 199. Jeff Swidrak broke out of a slump by going 3 for 5. John Rerucha went 4 for 6 with five RBI, and Mike Goll went 3 for 4. Vinny Rezeli, a rising sophomore at Brooke Point, pitched four innings for the win. Jonathan Cribbs helped with a home run.
Elliott already has met one of his goals, as Post 290 (11-4) matched last year's win total. With three wins in its last six games, Post 290 would clinch a playoff spot--Elliott's other goal--something last year's 11-10 team missed by two games.
After Woodbridge Post 364 lost to Loudoun Post 34, 7-2, on Sunday, Manager Gene Mulholland reminded his players of one fact--they are still 13-1.
"I told the kids it's just one loss," Mulholland said. "We have to keep on playing good."
American Legion Baseball
Division A W - L
Post 55 Fredericksburg 16-1
Post 290 Stafford 11-4
Post 320 Spotsylvania 6-8
Post 330 Culpeper 2-10
Division B W - L
Post 364 Woodbridge 13-1
Post 28 Dumfries (Potomac) 8-7
Smoketown Sluggers (Gar-Field) 8-9
Euclid Diamond Dawgs 1-14
Division C W - L
Post 72 Warrenton 8-5
Post 34 Loudoun 10-6
Post 150 Sterling 7-6
Post 114 Manassas 7-10
Division D W - L
Post 21 Winchester 9-4
Post 293 Purcellville 4-11
Post 199 Woodstock 3-12
Post 77 Strasburg 2-10
-- Through Monday
CAPTION: Byron Binda makes contact for Stafford Post 290, which at 11-4 has matched last year's win total. With three wins in its last six games, Post 290 would make playoffs, something it missed last season.
CAPTION: Mike Goll keeps his eyes on a grounder hit his way during Stafford Post 290's 20-6 win over Woodstock Post 199. At the plate Sunday, Goll went 3 for 4.