Excitement turned into horror in a matter of minutes for Mike Campbell and his Winchester Post 21 teammates tonight at the Virginia State American Legion baseball tournament.
Richmond Post 361 sent 12 batters to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring nine runs -- most off Campbell -- to invoke the mercy rule for a 16-6 victory over Winchester. That came after Winchester, with Campbell leading the way, whittled a three-run deficit to one in the top of the inning.
"We were really happy, and our heads were really in it," Campbell said. "Then after going down four or five runs our heads just got out of it. We didn't want to win it."
Winchester, 1-1 in the double-elimination tournament, will face Holloway-Moore Post 273 at 10 a.m. today. The tournament is being played at Courtland High.
Earlier, Springfield Post 176 stayed alive with a 17-1 rout of Churchland Post 310 in a losers' bracket game shortened to seven innings. Springfield's Andy Jewell went 3 for 5 with two doubles and Jim Freund was 3 for 4 with 3 RBI.
At 1 p.m. Friday, Springfield will play the loser of tonight's game between Fredericksburg Post 55 and Danville Post 325.
Winchester trailed 7-4 entering the top of the eighth. Campbell (3 for 4, 1 RBI) led off with a single and Todd Lewis doubled. Two batters later, Chris Flynn drove in Campbell with a single, and Lewis scored on a wild pitch. But with Flynn waiting on second base with the tying run, Jeff Hahn and Jermane Walker each flied out to center.
Campbell then took the mound, having relieved starter Lewis before the seventh inning. Campbell walked leadoff hitter Fletcher Lane. Lane stole second and Campbell threw wildly to third on a bunt by Tripp Vint. That was followed by a walk, a two-run double, a sacrifice and two singles.
Campbell was relieved by Eric Chrisman, who yielded two walks, a sacrifice fly and two singles to end the game.
"We'll come back tomorrow," said Campbell, of Sherando High. "We have a lot of heart, and I know we can hunker down and win tomorrow."
Winchester 100 002 12 -- 6 13 4
Richmond 012 202 09 -- 16 16 3
Louis, Campbell (7), Chrisman (8) and Caton; Latimer, Londrey (7) and Mitchell. HR -- Kennedy (4), Fletcher (4), Vint (6).