Nansemond Indians win state title

Published 3:14 pm Monday, July 27, 2009

Nansemond Post 88 completed a dominating American Legion baseball season on Saturday winning the Virginia Junior American Legion Tournament in Glen Allen. The Indians clinched the championship with a 7-2 win over Post 310 Churchland, finishing a 4-0 run through the state tournament and a 24-1 record overall.

If 24-1 isn’t impressive by itself, Post 88 outscored its opponents 255-71 this season. Nansemond averaged more than 10 runs a game while holding opponents to just under three runs per game.

“Yes, expectations were high, but this exceeded our expectations for being a first-year Post,” said head coach Todd Eure.

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This was the first season for Post 88 to form a team, which brings up a more remarkable fact about Nansemond’s season, Eure said only two or three players will be moving up to Senior Division. Most of this team could be back next season.

“Without a shadow of a doubt we were the youngest team (at the state tournament),” said Eure. “Churchland pretty much had their varsity team. All the teams were loaded mostly with 16-year-olds while we have some 13- and 14-year-olds and only had two 16-year-olds.”

No opponent got within five runs of Nansemond in the state tournament.

The Indians started with a 14-1, five-inning rout over Post 248 Colonial Heights on Tuesday. Blake Eure finished the game with a “walk-off” grand slam. Tyler Brown was the winning pitcher.

Even though Nansemond’s winning margins were comfortable in the next two games, the Indians had to come back from slow starts in both.

Against Post 8 South Boston, South Boston held Nansemond without a hit for the first four innings and took a 4-1 lead to the fifth. The Indians scored eight runs in the fifth and took an 11-5 victory. Travis Johnson got the win with Chris Hewitt finishing the game in relief.

“Bless poor Chris,” said Eure, “he had oral surgery just before the tournament, so he was up there playing with stitches in his mouth.”

A loss against South Boston would’ve put Nansemond in need of five straight wins to win the championship.

Nansemond beat Churchland 10-5 to reach the final game. Churchland led Nansemond 4-1 before the Indians scored four runs in the fifth and five more runs in the sixth. Josh Howard got the win on the mound.

Nansemond’s outfielders, Zack Repko, D.J. Williams and Josh Henderson, were the heroes said Eure. “They made seven or eight outstanding plays. Our outfielder was unbelievable, man. They were tops.”

In the championship, Churchland needed back-to-back wins over Nansemond, but the Indians took care of game one easily, winning 7-2.

Johnson got his second win of the tournament. Henderson, Nansemond’s centerfielder, went 3-for-4 at the plate and won the Tournament MVP award.

At the Senior level of American Legion baseball, teams can go on to regional tournaments and the American Legion World Series. At the Junior Division, the state championship is as far as Nansemond can go.

Many of the Indians were Nansemond River JV teammates this spring and all of Eure’s players are former AAU teammates.

“The camaraderie amongst all the players is just great,” said Eure. “There’s been no arguing and no fighting all year. These guys love to play together and love to be together.”

“It was a wonderful, dream season and I think their love to play the game carried them right through.”