Vienna Post 180 not only repeated as the American Legion state tournament champions – the baseball team dominated the Virginia competition in Lynchburg, compiling a 5-0 record, allowing just eight runs (five earned) and recording two shutouts.
“That’s something,” Vienna manager Nick Good said. “I was looking at the list of the past state champions before this tournament, and I would stop and look longer anytime I saw that a team repeated as champs. I told our players, we have a chance to be one of those teams people will stop and look at on that list for years to come.”
The state title was the sixth for Post 180, which last won back-to-back crowns in 1970 and 1971.
Vienna (32-2) capped the 2019 title the morning of Aug. 3 with a 6-4 victory over Warrenton West Post 72, giving Post 180 a perfect 9-0 playoff record this summer and an overall 12-game winning streak.
“This is pretty cool,” said Vienna shortstop Eric Lingebach, who played on last year’s state-championship team. “With this group of guys, we have a lot of confidence and our pitching really stepped up.”
Lingebach had a hit and two RBI in the state final, as he continued to swing a hot bat in recent games.
“My timing was better and I was getting my foot down a little earlier on my swings,” Lingebach said about his hot-hitting streak.
Vienna had 11 hits in the final game, with Allen Yager (one RBI) and Josh Gjormand each having two hits and two stolen bases. Avery Neaves had two hits, including a double, Zach Perkins had a two-run double, L.A. Rice had a double, Jimmy Clark had an RBI groundout and Ryan Dooley a sacrifice bunt.
On the mound, Vienna right-hander Braden Huebsch went all seven innings, throwing 96 pitches, scattering 10 hits, allowing three earned runs, fanning two and walking three. It was his second win in the state tournament and third in the postseason.
“Braden has a lot of endurance, and he showed great determination coming back on four days rest,” Good said. “He was very efficient.”
Vienna, which never trailed in the tournament, scored four runs in the top of the first inning against Warrenton and led 6-3 entering the bottom of the seventh. Huebsch got the game’s last out on a called third strike after Warrenton closed the gap to 6-4 and had runners on second and third.
“Everyone hit, the defense picked up the pitchers when needed, and we had a lot of confidence,” said Gjormand, who will play in college at nearby Lynchburg University. “It’s so cool to win states and to do that right here with some of the Lynchburg coaches watching. I’ll be back here in a couple of weeks.”
Vienna’s shutdown pitching was the key to its state championship. Every starting pitcher went deep into games and notched wins, with Gjormand and Huebsch throwing complete games. Seth Richards and Rice started and got the other wins. Perkins, Dooley and Chris Blake pitched well in relief.
Post 180 opened the state tournament with a 10-0 victory over Warrenton; topped Rocky Mount Post 6, 5-3, in its second game; downed Leesburg Post 34, 5-1, in its third; then Colonial Heights Post 284, 13-0, in its fourth.
“We knew we could have a pretty good team again this summer with Eric and Avery back, and both have had tremendous seasons,” Good said. “We picked up some good pitching and things really fell into place.”
Vienna now advances to the eight-team double-elimination Region 2 Mid-Atlantic Tournament Aug. 7-11 at McCrary Park in Asheboro, N.C. Its first game is Aug. 7 against New Jersey.
The region champ moves on to the American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C., Aug. 15-20.