Chris Davis arrived in the nick of time for Sterling Post 150. A family commitment kept the right-hander away during Sterling's first two games, but Davis was back Tuesday night, and it was enough to help his team stave off elimination in the American Legion Baseball 16th District playoffs.
Davis pitched a complete game, yielding one earned run and striking out nine Loudoun Post 34 batters as Sterling won, 18-5, in a loser's bracket game at Courtland High School in Spotsylvania. Davis also contributed at the plate, going 2 for 4 with four RBI, including a three-RBI double in the eighth inning that sealed Sterling's win.
"I like beating these guys," Davis said Wednesday morning about 12:30 a.m., a few minutes after the 3-hour 15-minute game ended. "This is a great win. I'd be jumping up and down screaming if I wasn't so tired. These guys [Loudoun players] grew up across town from us, and they've always been our rival."
The win qualified Sterling (16-8) for a berth in the round of four in the double-elimination tournament, where it will face Fredericksburg Post 55 (22-2) today at 5 p.m. at Courtland. When the two teams met in the first round of the playoffs Saturday, Fredericksburg won, 12-2, in a seven-inning game shortened by the mercy rule.
The winning team will advance to the semifinal game Saturday.
Although Tuesday's final score indicates a rout, it was a two-run game as late as the eighth inning. Sterling held a 7-5 lead heading into the top of the inning, but Davis and his teammates then built on their lead. Chris Dagley drove in Patty Winslow with a single, and three batters later, Davis helped himself with a bases-clearing double to center.
In the top of the ninth, Sterling added seven more runs, with Davis, Mikey Valcour, Joey Weisen, Winslow and Dagley each driving in a run.
Valcour and Davis led Sterling with four RBI apiece. Winslow and Dagley added three RBI each, with Dagley also scoring three runs.
Davis, meanwhile, surrendered 10 hits but spread them out and pitched well with runners in scoring position.
"My fastball was just popping," he said. "I was throwing hard. I've always been a power pitcher. I developed [a] slider to keep them off balance. . . . I was planning on throwing the whole nine innings. Leadership is an example."
Mike Geneas pitched into the ninth inning for Loudoun but was pulled after he couldn't retire the first three batters of the inning. He fared better at the plate, leading his team with three hits and contributing an RBI single in the seventh. Geneas is one of four players, along with Adam Modzelesky, Ryan McQueen and Tony Watkins, who played his last American Legion game.
"It's still a young team," said Loudoun Coach Carl Watkins, whose team ended its summer with a 16-8 record. "In the grand scheme of things, the young guys stepped up this season."
Sterling Post 150 (16-8) 004 030 047--18 12 5
Loudoun Post 34 (16-8)001 101 200--5 10 5
Davis and Gitzen; Geneas, Ancowitz (9), Swinson (9) and Daughenbaugh.