VIRGINIA — The Virginia Senior American Legion baseball team had another outstanding outing Friday night, downing Ely 10-0 in five innings to move to a perfect 10-0 on the season.
Tom Nemanich got the start and the win on the bump for Post 239 as he did battle with Post 248’s Dalton Schreffler. Nemanich was on all night long and the defense behind him was stellar, wrapping up the five inning game in just 46 pitches.
Nemanich finished with no runs on two hits and one walk while fanning four. Schreffler’s night started off strong but got bumpy in the third as Ely gave up six runs and three more in the fourth. Schreffler exited the contest after 3.1 innings with eight runs on seven hits and three walks. He fanned two.
Andrew Zika pitched the final 1.2 innings for Post 248, giving up two runs on one hit and three walks.
Virginia’s strong night at the plate was kickstarted in the third inning with leadoff hitter Ryan Hujanen doubling to deep left field from the No. 7 spot in the lineup. One out later, Cole Schaefer put runners on the corner with a hard hit infield single.
Schaefer stole his way to second with Landin McCarty at the plate. The top of Post 239’s lineup now at the plate, McCarty hit an infield single of his own to score one run, putting Virginia on the scoreboard first.
Nick Peters kept things moving for Virginia, doubling down the left field line to score two more runs. After a flyout from Mason Carlson, Nemanich came up to the plate and reached on a walk to put runners back on the corners.
A walk to Daniel Moore filled up the bases with Ryan Scherf coming to bat next. Scherf knocked two home on a single of his own to put Post 239 up 5-0. Hujanen back at the plate for the second time this inning, the Virginia left fielder hit a dribbler into left for a single, but a throwing error from Ely to home plate allowed the next run to come home to score, making it 6-0 by inning’s end.
On Virginia’s six-run inning, Post 239 head coach Tom Norman said it was great to see his squad hitting all the way down the lineup.
“That’s the great part about this team,” Norman said. “One through nine can hit the ball. Anyone can finish the day 3-3. They’re all so experienced and talented and that really helps me out as a coach and makes things easier on me.”
Virginia tacked on three more in the fourth to extend their lead. Schaefer reached on a leadoff error and then stole his way to second with one out away. Peters was walked to put runners on one and two with both being driven in on a Carlson driple to deep left-center field.
Now trailing 8-0, Ely pulled Schreffler for Zika, hoping to get out of the jam. Carlson on third and Nemanich at the plate, Post 248 opted for the play at first on the fielder’s choice, allowing Carlson to score to make it 9-0 after four innings.
Post 239 needed just one more run in the bottom of the fifth inning to end things. Hujanen and Jack Toman reached on back-to-back one-out walks and the bases were loaded up an out later on a single from McCarty.
The game ended in an anticlimactic fashion with Zika walking Peters, forcing Hujanen home for the 10th run. On the awkward ending, Norman said it was a tricky position to be in, knowing a walk ends the game but still encouraging the batter to get up to the plate and swing.
“You want your hitters to hit the ball but at the same time we’re trying to end the game as fast as we can and save some arms. Ely is a good team and the scoreboard doesn’t tell the whole story about them. So if we can end things quickly with them then we definitely want to do that.”
The win moves Post 239 to 10-0 on the season. While 10-0 is nice, Norman says his squad knows the importance of not letting off the gas when things are looking good.
“It’s a good accomplishment to have a record like that but we know what our ultimate goal is so we’re not satisfied right now. It’s a nice thing to look at but these kids want more and we’re going to get more.”
Throwing just 46 pitches to get the win, Norman said Nemanich’s arm looked solid Friday night with the defense behind him playing a great game as well.
“Tommy was very efficient tonight. He had a lot of low pitch innings. I’m proud of what he did out there and our defense picked him up. This is what we can do when we have complete games like this. We can get in and out quick and if the defense picks up our pitchers, there’s not a lot of teams that can compete with us.”
With the ultimate goal being to make it to the Division II State Tournament, Norman says it’s important to remind his team before every game what’s on the line.
“I tell them in the huddle before every game that we have something to prove and our guys come out and show up and play big.Starting 10-0 is great but these guys aren’t satisfied and I’m not satisfied as a coach. I know what they want and what their end goal is so I have to keep pushing them every day and they’re responding to it. I couldn’t be more proud.”