Albemarle Post 74 coach Mike Maynard is hoping his team’s 7-3 victory Friday night against Spotsylvania Post 320 serves as a learning experience.
For the first seven and a half innings, it was a dog fight with Albemarle clinging to a one-run lead. Sure enough though, the bats came alive in the bottom of the eighth, and as Spotsylvania struggled with errors, Rashad Talley was able to close the door in the top of the ninth comfortably.
“We weren’t ready to play at the start of this game and in baseball anybody can beat anybody,” Maynard said. “I didn’t think our approach against their left hander was very good. You’ve got to pull him and when he throws fastballs away you can go opposite field. We had some bad at-bats early in that game.”
Spotsylvania got on board in the top of the second on a lead off walk and RBI single but the Patriots were able to even up the score in the bottom of the third after Eli Haden cranked a double to the gap and Ryan Hughes drove him home in the next at-bat on a single.
In the fifth inning Spotsylvania capitalized on a fielding error to reclaim the lead, but again, Albemarle fought back to tie the game, this time in the bottom of the sixth when Vince Coles drew a walk, stole second and then third base, and finally took home on a throwing error.
With Jake Hendrix on in relief of starter Geran Steljes it appeared as though Spotsylvania was going to jump back out in front as it loaded the bases with one out. However, Hendrix dug himself out of the jam when he snagged a ball hit up the middle and kickstarted a 1-2-3 double play to end the top of the sixth inning.
Logan Forloines gave Albemarle its first lead of the game to start the bottom of the sixth as he reached base on a single and worked his way around the base paths and crossed the plate on a wild pitch.
With Talley now on the mound in the eighth, Albemarle came up with some much needed insurance in the bottom half of the inning as Spotsylvania’s defense began to sputter. Coles, Danny Morris, Talley and Wade Hughes scored in consecutive order with no outs which would be more than enough to close out the game in the ninth.
“Early in the game I think we were just tired,” Talley said. “Luckily we were able to put some hits together at the end there. I thought we did do a good job running the bases though.”
Steljes, Hendrix and Talley combined to surrender seven hits and just two earned runs with Hendrix picking up the win and Talley the save. With the one fielding error aside, the Albemarle defense was on point, particularly on the right side of the infield where second basemen Colin Tucker kept busy and first basemen Andrew Kayliss came up with a pair of key stops.
“I thought the pitching and defense, if it wasn’t for them, that we would have lost the game,” said Talley.
Coles finished the game 1 for 2 with two runs scored. Morris was 2 for 4 as was Talley.
Albemarle (4-0) gets a day of rest before hosting a double header against Waynesboro Post 340 on Sunday starting at 1 p.m.