POWHATAN - Once high school ended, Bobby Ayscue didn’t really know what was going to happen. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he didn’t really think they were going to play until he probably got to Mary Washington.
Not only has he been able to compete this summer with American Legion Post 137, but on Sunday night, in a nine-inning All-Star Game featuring top talent from the Richmond and Williamsburg areas, the Cosby High School alum drilled two big hits early on, including a go-ahead RBI single into left field in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Ayscue and his South of the James River All-Stars from three American Legion-sponsored teams (Posts 137, 201 and 284) led the rest of the way, beating the North of the James River All-Stars (Posts 39, 125 and 361) 9-6 on Baltimore Field at Powhatan High School.
“I’m glad this was put together because missing out on high school, missing senior season, especially after the way we ended last year, I really wanted to bounce back and have a good year, because we were underrated, but I think we were going to be pretty good,” Ayscue said. “I didn’t expect it, but I’m really happy it was put together.”
He got the go-ahead hit to score Post 201’s Christian Chambers. It didn't look like Chambers would reach first base on his shallow pop-up inside the basepath between first and second. But the towering launch hung in the air as a fielder ran in to collect it, and right after the home dugout shouted, "That ball is trouble," the ball deflected off the fielder's glove.
Post 284’s Drew Camp took advantage, sliding across home plate for the tying run.
The North All-Stars scored all six of their runs on homers. They led 3-0 when Post 125’s Scott McDonough and Post 39’s Riley Motley, two of the six Home Run Derby contestants who went three rounds deep, each launched a bomb in the top of the second inning.
"The night before definitely played a role - wasn't really trying to hit home runs; it's kind of hard going from a home run derby trying to just hit nothing but home runs to just trying to hit backside, line drives," said McDonough, who plays for Florence-Darlington Tech. "It's always fun to hit one out, and especially the All-Star Game."
But the South struck back with a four-run fourth inning, and while Post 125's Noah Cornwell bounced a two out, three-run dinger off the right-field light pole in the top of the ninth, his big play was followed by one of two strikeouts from Post 137’s Jake Mort to end the game.
Earlier in the ninth, Mort made a play that didn't end in an out, but was still a sight to behold. The Cosby alum made an astounding stop on a comebacker when he made the catch behind his back, then flipped the ball to first base on the attempted throwout.
The North All-Stars turned a rare 4-6-3-5-2 triple play after the South All-Stars’ surge in the fourth. After they turned two, first baseman and Post 361's Hayes Fallen was told to "let it go right when you get it."
Fallen zipped the ball to third baseman McDonough, who caught the runner heading home in a pickle.
McDonough got the ball to catcher and Post 125 player Carter Schmitt, who tagged out the runner trying to dash home.
"(Fallen) threw it, I scooped it, the guy froze and we just knew we were going to get him out," McDonough said. “Never been a part of a triple play, but hey, now we are!”
Post 125 player Bryce Safferwich, Saturday night's Home Run Derby winner, barehanded a ball on a hit off of the pitcher's glove by Brandon Eike and threw it across his body while on the run for an out to first base to end the third inning.
Post 201’s Alex Balisteri made a jumping catch in center field and added two hits, including a screaming line drive single into right field in the bottom of the seventh.
From there, he stole second to set himself up in scoring position, but when the throw to second base skipped past him and into the outfield, Balisteri took off and slid across third, then got back up and ran home when the throw to third hit the dirt and bounced away.
“It was just fun being around good players,” Balisteri said, “and it’s an honor to just come out here and compete with the best guys in the league.”
"It was a great experience, great to play baseball; a lot of people can't play right now," McDonough said. "But great to play, know a lot of kids out here - always fun to be with them."
"It's pretty fun - I get to play against kids I used to play against all the time, and play with kids I used to play with when I was younger," Ayscue said. "I just came out here, try to have some fun and that's all you can do right now - my thing right now is just coming out here and enjoying every moment I can because I had a whole season taken away from me. I'm just really trying to enjoy every moment I can."