Rappahannock falls on opening day, but ‘stronger’ for the experience
By Leonard Banks
The four-day 2017 Rookie Baseball State Tournament, sanctioned by Babe Ruth Baseball and Cal Ripken Baseball, wrapped up Sunday at Amissville’s Stuart Field — the first time the Rappahannock Athletic Association/Rappahannock Culpeper Baseball has hosted the prestigious championship.
Out of field of eight all-star teams, Richmond-based Glen Allen did the unthinkable, defeating its regional neighbor Rockville to win the tournament. The next step for the team will be the Southeast Regional Tournament in Palm Beach, Fla., starting Tuesday.
As for the host Rappahannock All-Stars, they lost 23-1 on opening day against Rockville. Rappahannock’s lone run took place in the bottom of third inning after Leeland Pentecost’s single scored Jason Streagle from third base. Rockville scored in every inning, including a grand slam home-run from Collin Felts in the top of the 4th inning.
Rappahannock was eliminated from the tournament after losing to Stafford, 15-4.
That said, the experience of playing against talent from across the state will forever be embedded in minds of the Rappahannock baseball squad. Head coach Michael Wharton says the experience alone of playing in such a prominent state tournament — and being hosts of the championship — will make his players stronger.
“Overall I think they are handling it pretty well — they just enjoy playing the game of baseball,” Wharton said.
The Rappahannock team roster for the tournament included Brooklyn Smith, Wyatt Allen, Lee Pentecost, Colt Barron, Aden Mifsud, Aidan Robinson, Drew Robinson, Michael Orahood, Elias Croushorn, Jason Streagle, Silas Wharton, Xavier Todd, Hayden Waddell, and manager/coaches Wharton, Chris Orahood, and Eddie Barron.
As for tournament highlights, after a dogfight during the first four and a half innings, where it appeared Rockville held a slight edge leading by a margin of one run, Glen Allen struck back by taking the lead on a Connor Slaski RBI single that scored Garrett Crabbe that eventually gave them a 4-3 win to force a second game.
From the first day of the tournament, adversity and the unmistakable ability to remain poised proved to be no strangers Glen Allen.
After narrowly losing to Summit Point (7-6), Glen Allen bravely fought back to escape the fate of double elimination.
“I thought it was fabulous for eight-year old boys to lose and come back the way we did,” Glen Allen Manager Sean Connor said. “We came back to win three games in one day and return to win two more – it was spectacular.”
With one run separating the two teams, Glen Allen narrowly out-hit Rockville. However, although game two was not a blowout, the Glen Allen dominated Rockville with a 5-0 shutout to win the coveted title.
Defense and timely Glen Allen hitting forced Rockville to a hole, trailing 2-0 after two innings. In the bottom of the third inning, Glen Allen extended their lead to 4-0 courtesy of RBIs from Steele Smith (triple) and Chase Hannett (single).
Glen Allen completed the shutout in the bottom of the 5th inning, after another Smith RBI (single) that scored Connor Slaski.
“The heart, the way they kept their heads up, everybody contributed, and it wasn’t one kid to do a lot of things,” Connor added. “Everybody stepped up and they all played well today.”
Glen Allen’s path to the state championship included victories over Arlington (District 3), New Kent (District 1), Summit Point (District 9), and Rockville (District 5).
Now the team suddenly finds itself bound from Amissville to sunny Florida for the regional play.
“It will be an opportunity for the boys to see what that level looks like,” Connor said. “We will find out what we need to do differently, what we need to grow, and how we need to build. We can play small ball, big ball, and score a lot of runs, if we need too.”
The historic doubleheader win at Stuart Field, took place on the final day of the four day tournament, which began July 6.
Sponsors of the tournament included Sperryville Trading Inc.; Rocky’s Party Rentals of Amissville; Griffin and Errera Orthodontics of Culpeper, Warrenton and Middleburg; James Welch of Warrenton’s Country Chevrolet; Buffalo Wild Wings of Culpeper; John Goetz Law, PLC, of Warrenton; A to Z Pawn in Manassas Park; Shawn’s BBQ of Culpeper; and Rankin’s Furniture of Warrenton.