Twice in Saturday's Virginia state American Legion championship baseball game, Winchester Post 21's season was down to its final out. Both times, right fielder Brent Lockhart came to the rescue.
With two outs in the ninth, Lockhart hit an improbable three-run double to tie the score. With Winchester trailing again in the 10th, Lockhart singled up the middle to drive in two runs and carry Winchester to the thrilling 6-5 victory over Danville Post 325 at James Wood High. "I never dreamed of this," Lockhart said. "I always dreamed of a home run walk off, but this is close. It feels just as good."
After losing in 10 innings to Danville on Thursday night, Winchester won three games Friday and Saturday to win its first state championship. Winchester advanced to the Mid-Atlantic Region tournament, which starts next week in Boyertown, Pa.
With Danville right-handed starter Will Inman seemingly untouchable with a 3-0 lead in the ninth -- Inman finished with 15 strikeouts in 91/3 innings -- Lockhart capped a two-out rally with a booming double barely over the outstretched glove of diving Danville center fielder John LeSueur. While his teammates celebrated in the dugout, Lockhart stood motionless on top of second base, the score tied at 3.
"I was just shocked that we had actually tied the game," Lockhart said.
"We were so close to losing, and all of a sudden it was 3-3."
Danville took a 5-3 lead in the 10th on a home run by Donny Price, but Winchester bounced back as pinch hitter J.R. Lockwood walked and catcher Tommy Farrell singled. Against reliever Jacob Thompson, Patrick Wingfield hit an RBI single to center to cut the deficit to 5-4, and Anderson singled to left. Lockhart then stepped the plate and hit a slow grounder up the middle that barely made it into the outfield, scoring two runs and ending the game.
"It was a total team effort," Farrell said. "We had so many different guys contribute, starters and guys off the bench. We kept up the intensity the whole time."
For the first eight innings, Winchester had no answer for the fireballer Inman, the reigning Virginia Group AA player of the year from Tunstall High. Inman retired the first four batters he faced before surrendering a walk, got the next 11 out before allowing his first hit, and then set down the next nine heading into the ninth.
In the ninth, Inman allowed a single, struck out two and then allowed two more singles, including an infield single that Anderson barely beat out, before facing Lockhart. Lockhart's double was the first hard-hit ball against Inman.
Lockhart said: "I was just trying to play up to [Inman's] level. He was a great pitcher, I was just hoping I could get a good pitch."