Mechanicsville Post 175 had played stellar defense to go with strong starting pitching and live bats in their first two games, both wins, at the American Legion State Tournament.
But on Thursday night, and early Friday morning, Mechanicsville's defense let them down, and the result was their first defeat of the postseason, placing them a loss away from the end of the road.
Six errors, and six walks, helped Albemarle Post 74 quickly erase a 3-0 fourth inning Post 175 lead, then pushed in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, advancing to the championship round with a 4-3 victory.
Mechanicsville scored all three of their runs in the fourth as Josh Lam blasted a solo shot to lead off the frame. Stephen Hurd next reached base on a wild throwing error by the pitcher, advancing all the way to third. He scored on a Brandon Crosby groundout. Cody Thompson and Andrew Simpson walked, Hayden Moore advanced Thompson to third on a deep flyout to center, then Thompson scored when Moore tried to steal second, getting caught a in rundown long enough to get Thompson across the plate.
But in the bottom of the fourth, Albemarle struck for three. Around three strikeouts for starter Brett Ayer were two walks and three key errors. Albemarle tied the game with just one hit, a two-run single from Cody Spencer with two down.
Mechanicsville stranded a runner at third in both the seventh and eighth, and after a two-out, ninth inning double from Haiden Lamb, couldn't get him across.
Reliever Justin Bishop, who entered in the sixth, saw a ball go just under Crosby's glove at short to lead off the ninth. After a bunt line out that almost became a double play, Spencer walked, then Chris Hughes launched a high fly down the left field line. In the lights and descending fog, Moore lost contact with the ball, and it landed in fair territory, allowing the runners to move forward. The winning run was at third.
Leadoff hitter Dylan Shifflett extended his at-bat to a full count, then Bishop sent a pitch too high allowing the winning run to score.
Mechanicsville turns around quickly to face the host Fredericksburg Post 55 Eagles at 10am back at Riverbend High School. With a win, they will get a rematch with Albemarle immediately following early in the afternoon. They must defeat Post 55, then Albemarle both Friday and a potential winner-take-all game Saturday morning if they want to claim the state title.
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