VIRGINIA — The Virginia Senior American Legion baseball team extended their unbeaten streak Thursday night at Stock Field, downing visiting Taconite 12-1 in five innings to move to 12-0 on the season.
Post 239 got a standout performance from starting pitcher Tom Nemanich as well as closer Daniel Moore. Nemanich surrendered one run on four hits and one walk in four innings of work. He struck out three along the way. Moore pitched the fifth and final inning, throwing just a dozen pitches to wrap things up.
Virginia put runners on bags early and often with Landin McCarty leading things off in the bottom of the first with a double to left-center field. A wild pitch from Post 301 starter Ethan Ambuel struggled with control early on, allowing McCarty to move to third on a wild pitch on the next at-bat.
One out later, McCarty was brought home to score thanks to a blooper to center field from Mason Carlson, putting Post 239 up early, 1-0. On the team’s quick start, Virginia skipper Tom Norman had praise for his team that wanted to start out swinging.
“I always tell them to score early and often, that’s how you win games,” Norman said. “They’re aggressive. I like their aggressiveness. At times it can bite us in the bite. But if we’re aggressive and do the right things, we’re a pretty good team so I’m happy they play the way they do.”
Post 239 kept things rolling in the bottom of the second inning, bringing eight more runs across home plate to take a commanding lead.
Virginia loaded the bases up with Ryan Scherf and Ryan Hujanen reaching on back-to-back walks just before Logan Nordby reached on an infield Taconite error. A wild pitch from Ambuel allowed all three to advance, with Scherf coming home to make it 2-0.
Cole Schaefer was walked to load things up again with Hujanen coming in to score after McCarty was walked. A wild pitch to Nick Peters allowed one more run to come in to score, with the bases being loaded up again with Peters eventually being walked.
Taconite pulled Ambuel and replaced him with Ezra Carlson from here. Mason Carlson took advantage of the new pitcher on the mound, hitting a single up the middle to score two, putting Post 239 on top 6-0.
Runners on first and second with no one out and Nemanich at the plate, Taconite grabbed their first out with Nemanich hitting into the play at second base, taking Carlson out. The throw to first for the attempted double play, however, was off the mark, allowing another Virginia run to come home and score, putting Post 239 up 7-0 with one out.
Moore kept the train rolling with a single hit to the third baseman to put runners on the corners. Nemanich eventually came in to score on a fielder’s choice with Scherf at the plate, making it 8-0.
Fully around the lineup in the inning, Hujanen then reached on an error charged to the Taconite shortstop with Nordby then bringing Scherf home on an RBI single that dribbled through the left side.
Getting all the way through the lineup and then some in the second inning, Norman said it was key for his squad to stay focused and energized as the inning wore on.
“We just want to keep everyone amped up in big innings like that. We always tell them to not be satisfied, keep going for the extra run. No matter what the score is, we want to keep it moving and keep hitting the ball and getting better.”
Virginia tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the third with Peters scoring on a sacrifice fly from Nemanich to make it 10-0. Virginia later got runners on first and third with Carlson reaching on a single to left before moving himself to third and Scherf reaching on a walk.
Scherf moved to second on a passed ball from the Taconite catcher and both came home on a single wild pitch, with Scherf not letting go of the gas to make it the full 180 feet.”
Nemanich allowed his only run of the game in the fourth inning to make it 12-1 just before Moore finished things out by pitching the fifth inning to secure the win. On Nemanich’s game, Norman had high praise for the starter.
“He had another great outing. He threw strikes. Defense picked him up. He’s been doing awesome this year. The whole team has been doing awesome this year. If our guys keep playing like this, I can’t be more proud of them.
On Moore cleaning things up, Norman mentioned his reliability and effectiveness in many different situations.
“He did good. He threw 12 pitches so he got us in and out quick. He’s one of those guys I can rely on to come in and throw strikes whenever I need him. He just steps up.”
Virginia will keep things moving Friday in the Sir G’s Legion Tournament in Ely. With team’s like Hermantown, St. Paul Highland, Cloquet and defending Division II Legion State Champions Wadena on the docket, Norman says it’ll be a great opportunity for his squad to get better, regardless of the outcome of the tournament.
“As long as we learn something every game, I don’t care what the record is. Nothing really matters until playoff time. These upcoming games are going to be tough but we’re ready for them. I’m gonna learn a lot about this team over the next couple days.”