Loudoun Post 34 Manager Carl Watkins survived. He survived all the graduation parties, beach week trips and vacations that left his squad depleted the past two weeks. Last week, Post 34 finally had its full complement of stars back, and it showed on the field.
Post 34 went 4-1 over the past week to move into second place in the 16th District Division C standings. Loudoun (10-6) is battling Sterling Post 150 (7-6) and Warrenton Post 72 (8-5) for a playoff spot, with just over a week remaining. The top two teams from each division advance to the district tournament, which begins July 26 and will be played at Courtland and Spotsylvania high schools.
"We're pretty much back to full strength, and I think it shows," said Watkins, who was without five starters at one point. "The young guys have pretty much done their job, and now it's time for the seniors to step it up."
Two of Post 34's biggest wins came against division opponent Warrenton. Loudoun beat Post 72 on July 6, 5-2, thanks in large part to the pitching of Tony Watkins, the manager's son. Watkins struck out 11 of the 28 batters he faced. Adam Modelensky went 3 for 3 at the plate in that game.
In the teams' second meeting, July 8, Trip Wilhelm held Post 72 to four hits in a 12-5 win. Loudoun swept Warrenton 3-0 this season, including a 12-4 win in early June.
Loudoun's only loss this week came to Potomac, in the first game of a doubleheader. Post 34 won the second game against previously undefeated Post 364 Woodbridge, 7-2.
Pitcher-outfielder Keith Ancowitz, a rising senior at Broad Run, said Loudoun's success against top teams is a product of believing every game is a "must-win."
"What we do best is to not talk about things like that," Ancowitz said. "We're out there to win every game, and we don't think that we have to win certain games but can lose others."
Although older players tend to be the best pitching prospects, David Dorion, at 16 one of the youngest players on Post 34, has thrown some strong innings this season.
"Pitching depth is crucial," Watkins said. "You're not going to go very far in this league if you don't have it. But while some of those older guys were gone, we were just going on a prayer for a while."
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