Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Moving On: West End Post 361 Loses Lead, Gets It Back For Marathon Win

West End Post 361 had to like their chances entering the eighth inning Wednesday night with a 9-4 lead on the host Leesburg Post 34 at the American Legion State Tournament in Purcellville.

But Post 34 began crawling back into the game. Play after play, run after run would score like a steady drip until the game was tied 9-9 by the time the inning ended.

It was time for another bit of magic for a team known for their last-inning comebacks.

Going toe to toe with the home team into the 13th, Drew Barker was tonight's hero, singling home Beano Shealy with the game-winning run, then fending off Post 34 in the bottom of the frame for a 10-9 victory.

Post 361 is now 16-6 overall, but more importantly, 2-0 in the double-elimination tournament. They next face the other unbeaten team left in the field, Albemarle Post 74, Thursday at 4pm. The winner of that game earns a berth in the championship final beginning Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

American Legion State Tournament: Post 361 Wins Opener...

They're back to their original script.

After holding a 5-0 lead, West End Post 361 saw Big Island Post 217 claw back into Tuesday's first round game in the American Legion State Tournament, scoring three in the top of the eighth to take a 6-5 lead.

But this was a small hill to climb compared to other mountains the team has faced in July, this month of comebacks for the dubbed "361 Mafia". Craig McLane hit a game-tying double, then scored on the eventual game-winning single by Drew Barker, leaving the rest to starter Nic Phelps, who struck out eight and closed the door in the ninth to secure the 7-6 first round victory.

West End Post 361 improves on the season to 15-6, and more importantly, advance in the winners bracket of the tournament, getting a full day of rest for its determined, but undermanned, pitching staff. Not having to play again early Wednesday in the elimination bracket is a huge bonus for the team's championship chances.

Tomorrow night at 7:30, 361 will face the winner of the final game of day one of the tourney between Roanoke Post 3 and Leesburg Post 34.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Champions: West End Post 361 Explodes For Championship Win...

It's possible that West End Post 361 came into their two-game American Legion District 11 Tournament Finals with top-seeded Mechanicsville Post 175 not only knowing they had to win twice to capture the tournament title, but desiring to stay away from yet another situation where they would have to live up to their late-season mantra: "The Comeback Kids".

They'd much rather be called the "361 mafia", thank you. That mafia used every aspect of the sport, from pitching and defense to slow rollers and long bombs to jump on Mechanicsville Post 175 for nine runs in the first two innings en route to a 13-5 win to capture the District 11 crown.

"It's different to be on this side of the ball, but it's nice," said catcher Will Black. "When you have the lead, you can attack their hitters a little better."

That's just what Patrick Hulihan did. The lefty worked seven innings, getting out of several tricky situations, only serving up one mistake that turned into a grand slam home run for Post 175, which cut the by-then 12-0 lead in the fifth to 12-4. Otherwise, Hulihan did what Patrick Hall did Tuesday and Nic Phelps accomplished Monday, with strong outings on the hill that went deep into the game so 361 did not have to worry about their lack of pitching depth.

"Unbelievable work; they both located their three pitches: the fast, the curve, and the change, both kept them off-balance," Black explained. "They're a real aggressive team, so you need good off-speed pitches for first strikes to get ahead. Unbelievable job."

Black described the starting rotation of Hulihan, Hall, Phelps, and Tyler Magee as having the mentality to know each time they are given the ball, they need to produce seven plus innings of solid work. In the past 48 plus hours, Phelps and Hall pitched eight apiece, tonight Hulihan went seven.

Hall hit his second home run in as many games, a grand slam down the right field line, the biggest shot in a seven-run second inning that took a 2-0 game and turned it into a developing 9-0 rout. But 175 wasn't nearly done.

After the Trevor Denton grand slam in the fifth, 175 loaded the bases twice more. Josh Lam, who struck out with the bases jammed before the Denton home run, had three opportunities at the plate with three runners aboard. He produced two strikeouts and a sacrifice fly for Mechanicsville's final run. After a final 361 run was scored in the ninth, 175 went quietly in the final three outs. Mechanicsville left 13 runners on base.

West End improves to 14-6 and advances to the State American Legion Tournament that begins Monday in Purcellville, Virginia. Brackets and directions will be posted here on our website as soon as they are available to us.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

BASEBALL: West End Post 361 Forces Winner Take All Championship Game

The pitching of Patrick Hall, solid defense, and the gift of the sixth inning together send West End Post 361 to the American Legion District 11 Championship Game after holding on for a 9-6 win tonight over Mechanicsville Post 175 at L.C. Bird High School.

Hall pitched 8 innings, striking out two while keeping Mechanicsville off balance, getting only four hits in the first eight frames. Hall tired in the ninth, walking the first two batters before allowing a double and single before being replaced by Kyle Saltzberg. He ended with a line of five runs on six hits with three walks to go with the two strikeouts. Take away the work in the final inning, and the line is more indicative of his overall work.

Hall also homered in the fifth inning for the game's first run. Post 175 starter Patrick Holler had matched Hall's performance to that point. Holler fell apart in the sixth. After a Craig McLane flyout, Holler walked both Drew Barker and Will Black. Clean-up hitter Kyle Battle then greeted reliever Thomas Renfro with a double to left-center to score both runners.

Drew Scott followed with a single, then Battle scored on a fielders choice by Eric Crain. Crain advanced to second on a wild pitch to Hall, then Hall singled to left scoring Crain. Hall advanced to second on the play, then scored when shortstop Josh Shepherd threw wildly to first on a grounder by Nick Koutsoukas, scoring Hall with the inning's final run.

Post 361 (13-6) added two in the eighth and one in the ninth, and needed them, as Post 175 rallied for five runs in the ninth before finally running out of steam.

The two teams have split their four meetings this season: 1-1 in regular season play, 1-1 in this tournament. Tomorrow's 7pm game sends one to a District title and the State Tournament in Purcellville beginning Monday, and one to the end of the road.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

FOLLOW-UP: VHSL Alignment Committee Proposal, Interview With Committee Member...

On June 30th, HCS Media Network reported here on the June 24th meeting of the Virginia High School League (VHSL) Alignment Committee, which met in Charlottesville to discuss changes to the new six-classification system due to normal student population changes at schools throughout Virginia.

The meeting also served as an opportunity for all twelve regions to report to the committee on concerns voiced by individual schools, and in the case of one region, a collective of schools, about the new system implemented in the 2013-14 school year.

Our original report focused on several issues, including the proposed changes that came out of the meeting, how they would affect several schools in our coverage area, and why the existence of "districts" continues with the proposal of districts for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years with one area change.

HCS Media spoke with Atlee Activities Director Dave Kannewurf this week via email. Mr. Kannewurf serves on the VHSL Alignment Committee, and spoke candidly about the meeting, its purpose, rationale behind portions of the proposal, and confirming the continued existence of districts and why that is the case.

Of note, Mr. Kannewurf did not attend the June 24th meeting (he represents the 5A South Region) due to being on vacation, but Atlee principal Jennifer Cohodas was there on his behalf. Kannewurf was in constant communication with Cohodas during the actual meeting.

A QUESTION OF BALANCE: While exploring the changes in school enrollments, the committee was also charged, in trying to settle the new classification system into existence in preparation for its second two-year cycle, to reach a goal given to them by the VHSL.

"The Alignment Committee was given the tasks of balancing out the Regions and Conferences," Kannewurf said. "The parameters given were that Conferences should have between five and eight members, and Regions should have 24 to 28 members."

In the Richmond area alone, Conference 11 had eight members, Conference 12 had six, while Conference 16 had only four. Thus, where Patrick Henry only had to win one game in their conference tournaments to clinch a 5A North Region playoff berth, Atlee and Lee-Davis, in Conference 11, had to win two games.

"The difference between 5A North and 5A South was such that a few schools from 5A South needed to move to 5A North," Kannewurf noted. The proposal would place 28 schools in 5A South, 24 in 5A North.

The biggest change involves area schools, as Mills Godwin, Deep Run and Atlee would move from 5A South, Conference 11 to 5A North, Conference 16.

"Mills Godwin, Deep Run, and Atlee were the most western and northern schools which made sense when looking at locations," Kannewurf explained. "They are also the closest schools to the current members of Conference 16, which consists of Albemarle, Orange, and Patrick Henry."

Halifax County, also a current member of Conference 16, has been moved in the proposal to 5A South, Conference 12 to be the only non-Richmond/Petersburg area member of a seven-team conference that would host Highland Springs, moving from Conference 11, and Varina, moving down from 6A South to 5A South. One could reason this move was to ensure the East End rivals were together, but a current Conference 11, with six proposed members, five from Henrico, have room to house up to two more teams and stay within the Committee's charger parameters. It would, however, leave Conference 12 with just five teams.

In addition, Kannewurf also noted Conference 11 had to shed members, because, after a request by Patrick Henry to move to Conference 11 to join its county brethren created a scenario where the conference would have nine members, outside of the given parameters.

PLAYOFFS ONLY: On paper, this would give the impression that, for example, West End rivals Douglas Freeman and Mills Godwin would be separated, and this is true when it comes to the playoffs. Currently, as another example, Patrick Henry cannot face either Atlee or Lee-Davis in the postseason until the State Semifinals due to the Patriots being in 5A North, the Raiders and Confederates in 5A South.

But now is a good time to discuss a major point of the meeting, and the foreseeable future when it comes to how rivals, not just in Henrico, but across the state, are scheduled.

"It is important to remember that this is for playoffs only," Kannewurf stated. "With district scheduling, Atlee will continue to play Lee-Davis twice a year in most sporting events. The effect of this change will not change anything as far as competition goes between them. A perfect example of how competition will look is to look at the competition between Atlee and Hanover both prior to the new system and after. As you could see from last year, Atlee and Hanover continued to play each other twice in most or all sports."

With this formula, expect the Eagles and Rebels to continue to play consistently, at least in the regular season.

THE DISTRICTS LIVE ON: The reason why a Godwin/Freeman rivalry can continue is the VHSL continues to use the old "District System" from the former "Three-Group" classification system used from 1970-2013 to determine regular season schedules. Many people believed that the VHSL approved continued use of old district schedules in the first two-year cycle of the new classification system to help bridge schools from the "old" to the "new". That was never the plan.

"Currently, there is no plan to move away from district scheduling," Kannewurf said. "Each district is reponsible for making that decision. Any change would have to be voted on by the principals of that district. When the new alignment was designed by the VHSL (in 2012), it was done for postseason purposes only and with the belief that regular season competition would still be district driven. What this system has done is that it has opened up the door to play your non-district games against conference schools."

The one proposal coming from the make-up of districts for 2015-16 and 2016-17 would swap Patrick Henry and Glen Allen, the Patriots going to the Capital District, where they haven't resided since the 1970's, to join their county rivals, and the Jaguars moving to the Colonial District, where they would be in the same district as county geographic neighbors Hermitage, J.R. Tucker, and Deep Run among others.

NOT FOR ANOTHER YEAR: It is important be to reminded here that, once the proposed changes are approved, they will not take effect until the 2015-16 school year. The new year almost upon us will operate just like last year did. Schools are currently filing appeals to the proposal with the VHSL Alignment Committee. They will be heard at a meeting on August 11th. Once approved in either its current or an amended form, the Alignment Committee will present the proposal to the VHSL Executive Committee for possible approval on September 17th.

THE CHANGES: Here are the new proposed Conferences by Region affecting all Metro Richmond area schools. Teams that have moved will be in bold with former home in parentheses. Any moves from one classification to another (example: 3A to 4A) is due to rise in student population. There are a few that move down, not always due to falling student population, but more because enough schools with rising populations moving up have pushed some schools down one classification.

(HIGHLIGHTS: Six of nine Henrico County schools are moving in some way. All county schools would be in the 5A Classification. Glen Allen and J.R. Tucker move up from 4A to 5A, join Conference 11 with Freeman, Hermitage, Henrico. Highland Springs moves to Conference 12, joining Varina, moving down from 6A. Deep Run and Mills Godwin move from 5A South to 5A North, Conference 11 to Conference 16.)


Conference 3: (was 6 teams, now 7 teams)
Clover Hill (was 5A South, Conference 12)
Thomas Dale
Franklin County
Patrick Henry-Roanoke
James River
Manchester (was 5A South, Conference 12)


Conference 11: (was 8 teams, would be 6 teams)
Douglas Freeman
Glen Allen (was 4A South, Conference 20)
J.R. Tucker (was 4A South, Conference 20)

Conference 12: (was 6 teams, would be 7 teams)
L.C. Bird
Halifax (was 5A North, Conference 16)
Highland Springs (was 5A South, Conference 11)
Prince George
Varina (was 6A South, Conference 3)


Conference 16: (was 4 teams, would be 6 teams)
Atlee (was 5A South, Conference 11)
Deep Run (was 5A South, Conference 11)
Mills Godwin (was 5A South, Conference 11)
Patrick Henry (Ashland)
Orange County


Conference 19: (completely new members, six total)
Caroline (was Conference 20)
King George

Conference 20: (was 7 teams, would be 6 teams)
Huguenot (was 3A East, Conference 26)
Powhatan (moving from Conference 19)


(Conference 25, home to Colonial Heights and New Kent, would shrink from eight to five members, with departure of Lafayette, Poquoson, and York)

Conference 26: (remains 7 teams)
Thomas Jefferson
James Monroe (moving from Conference 27)
Spotsylvania (moving from Conference 27)
George Wythe


Conference 33: John Marshall moves down one classification, joins Maggie Walker Governor's School, King William, Washington & Lee, Arcadia, Bruton & Nandua. Windsor leaves, moving to 1A East.

Conference 34, containing Goochland, Amelia County, remains the same.


Conference 42, containing Chesterfield Community, West Point, and Charles City remains the same.

Monday, July 14, 2014

American Legion Baseball District 11 Tournament Schedule

The battle for the District 11 Title and a berth in the Virginia State American Legion Tournament begins on Thursday night in a double-elimination format.

Thursday July 17th:

GAME 1: #8 Ashland Post 206 at #1 Mechanicsville Post 175, 7pm, Hanover High School
GAME 2: #7 Colonial Heights Post 284B at #2 Colonial Heights Post 284P, 7pm, Shepherd Stadium
GAME 3: #6 South Richmond Post 137 at #3 West End Post 361, 7pm, Hermitage High School
GAME 4: #5 Powhatan Post 201 at #4 Lakeside Post 125, 7pm, Douglas Freeman High School

Friday July 18th (games at higher seed at 7pm):

GAME 5: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2
GAME 6: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4
GAME 7: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2
GAME 8: Loser of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4

Saturday July 19th (games at higher seed at 7pm):

GAME 9: Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6
GAME 10: Loser of Game 6 vs. Winner of Game 7
GAME 11: Loser of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 8

Sunday July 20th (3pm at L.C. Bird High School):

GAME 12: Winner of Game 10 vs. Winner of Game 11

Monday July 21st (7pm at L.C. Bird High School):

GAME 13: Winner of Game 12 vs. Loser of Game 9

Tuesday July 22nd (7pm at L.C. Bird High School: Championship Round)

GAME 14: Winner of Game 13 vs. Winner of Game 9

Wednesday July 23rd (7pm at L.C. Bird High School: Championship Round Final If Necessary)

GAME 15: Only if Winner of Game 9 loses Game 14 on Tuesday 7/22

NOTE: The District 11 Tournament Champion begins play in the State Tournament on Monday, July 28th in Purcellville, Virginia.