The Annandale Post 1976 American Legion baseball team does not draw players from high schools that have had much success in recent seasons. But as a unit -- made up of the best players from Annandale, W.T. Woodson and Jefferson high schools -- Post 1976 has vaulted to the top of District 17 at 6-1, thanks to a group of young, solid pitchers and a lineup that has scored 79 runs in seven games.
"A lot of these guys have played for me for a while," said Coach Jerry Park, who has led his team into the district playoffs the last four years. "It's the teams that return their players year after year that have the edge."
W.T. Woodson's Brian McKeown, who will be a junior next year, has been Post 1976's ace. In three starts, McKeown, 16, is 3-0 with a 1.40 earned run average and 36 strikeouts.
"He was pretty good as a 15-year-old," Park said. "But he played ball all year, lost the rest of his baby fat and has been playing great ball."
Post 1976's top seven batters all have been producing. It starts at the top, with leadoff hitter Tony Bianucci, a 36th-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres, and Annandale rising senior Jamie Shagnon getting on base.
They are followed by W.T. Woodson's Dan Porter, Gonzaga's Kevin McCullough and Virginia Tech sophomore Erik Turberville, each of whom has two home runs.
The Nos. 2 through 7 hitters, who also include Adam Landenwich and Jamie Chagnon, have combined for 19 extra-base hits. All six have at least seven runs batted in, with Turberville leading the way with 15.
Arlington's Claim to Fame
When Arlington Manager Chris Burr walked into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., Saturday evening, he strolled past Babe Ruth's statue and Mark McGwire's 62nd home run ball and headed right up to the third floor.
There he saw a familiar sight. Hanging in a display case in the "Stadiums and Champions" section was an Arlington Senators jersey and hat.
"What a great thrill," said Burr, whose Clark C. Griffith Collegiate Baseball League team earned a spot in the Hall of Fame by winning the All American Amateur Baseball Association national title last season. "It's like a dream come true."
Every year, the Hall of Fame honors various national champions by displaying uniforms, photos, trophies and team plaques. The uniforms and trophies, which are donated by the teams, are displayed for one year. The plaques, which list the team's name and most valuable player, are permanently enshrined.
"A lot of kids never get to go to the Hall of Fame," said Burr, whose team was in Cooperstown to play Reston at Doubleday Field. "The Arlington Senators are in the Hall of Fame. . . . That's amazing."
In the game at Doubleday Field, Arlington defeated Reston, also of the Clark Griffith League, 5-2. Arlington reliever John Gouzd (James Madison University) retired the last nine batters to secure the win for starter John Rush (Coastal Carolina), who gave up two hits in five innings.
Baker, Griel Are Honored
Gar-Field's Jeff Baker, a pitcher and shortstop, was named one of three Group AAA players of the year and Lake Braddock Coach Dan Griel was named Group AAA co-coach of the year by the Virginia High School Coaches Association, it was announced yesterday.
Also chosen by the VHSCA for the first-team all-Group AAA team were Herndon first baseman Jason Allen, Langley third baseman Chad Tornabeni, Potomac utility player Danny Lopaze and Potomac shortstop Jose Pabon, who was chosen as the designated hitter.
West Potomac catcher Jed English, West Springfield shortstop Marc Tugwell, Lake Braddock outfielder Mike Amos and pitchers Joe Saunders of West Springfield and Joe Koshansky of Chantilly were named to the second team.
Of the 10 players, all were seniors in the 1999 season except for Koshansky, a junior.
Honorable mention players were Oakton's Matt Germroth, Brad Bauder of Broad Run, Jeremy Cleveland of Hayfield, Kevin Davis of Robinson and Chris Garris of Potomac. . . .
Baker, a fourth-round pick in the recent amateur baseball entry draft, last week turned down the Cleveland Indians' contract offer and said he was planning to honor his commitment to Clemson. The Indians' offer included a $415,000 signing bonus and an $80,000 college scholarship, according to his father, Larry Baker.
On the Road Again, and Again
Because of scheduling conflicts in the Clark C. Griffith Collegiate Baseball League, the Southern Maryland Battlecats have played only three home games this season. That has not stopped them from winning.
Heading into tonight's doubleheader against Vienna, the Battlecats are 7-5 and have won six of their last seven games. But Manager Fred Rodriguez says the Battlecats are getting frustrated with all the travel.
"It would be nice to play at home, but fields here are at a premium," said Rodriguez, whose team was supposed to host Vienna tonight at Arundel High School but will travel to South Lakes High School in Reston. "I don't know what we're going to do, but I can tell you this: We're getting really tired of getting on the Beltway and sitting in traffic every day . . . It's taking its toll on all of us."