Amid gathering storm clouds and similarly tempestuous times, baseball was played Tuesday night at Douglas Freeman High School’s Ken Moore Field.
And as the last chords of the national anthem faded into the darkening evening sky, a voice from the stands rang out: “Play ball!”
About 40 fans were in attendance to see Williamsburg Post 39 beat Lakeside Post 125 6-0 on the strength of starting pitcher Lincoln Lubsen’s complete-game effort.
But in light of the ongoing pandemic, the box score was perhaps the last thing on everyone’s minds on the first night of the third week of the unofficial American Legion season.
“It meant so much for me to get back on the field just because I’ve played this game since I was a little kid and it’s always been there for me,” said Post 125 center fielder Liam Simpson, who is entering his second year at the University of Richmond.
Simpson, a Freeman graduate, plays football and baseball for the Spiders. Before the Legion season began earlier this month, he hadn’t played organized baseball in about a year.
Post 39 is the only nonlocal team in the six-squad league. Its members have been commuting from the Williamsburg area to play, and coach Chuck Mihalcoe said many of players have been clamoring for game action after missing their spring seasons.
Their district does not have any other active senior Legion teams.
In a typically high-scoring league, 125 was kept off the board by Lubsen’s grit and two key plays. Left fielder Noah Berringer, a Mills Godwin alumnus, lined into an inning-ending double play with runners on first and second in the bottom of the third. Post 39 center fielder Tim Guillen gunned down 125’s Trey Karnes at home as Karnes, a Lee-Davis graduate, attempted to score on a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Post 125 leadoff hitter and right fielder Jeb Cray said missing baseball during the spring meant he couldn’t see many of his friends. Before the Legion season, the rising senior at Benedictine hadn’t picked up a bat since the Cadets’ lone game of the 2020 season in early March.
“Just being back on the field with all your buddies, everyone kind of knows each other,” Cray said of the season thus far.
“So it’s laid-back, we have fun, joke around, but also we’re here to get better. Everyone just wants to play baseball.”
During Post 39’s decisive five-run fifth inning, a runner was tagged out at home, yet had the presence of mind to pick up the catcher’s discarded mask mid-slide and return it to its owner before heading back to the dugout. Players and coaches said this selfless sportsman’s attitude has been a staple of the unofficial league.
“We’re just glad to see the kids have a chance to play,” said Moore, the field’s namesake and longtime Freeman coach as he watched from the press box.
“As long as we can play ball, we’ll always be out there,” Simpson said of the opportunity presented by the league.
As the bottom of the seventh inning began, the wind picked up and oncoming clouds grew ever darker. Post 125’s Bryce Safferwich, another Godwin alumnus, led off the inning with a weak grounder, but hustled down the line and beat the throw to first, drawing cheers from the stands.
Three batters later, lightning flashed on the horizon, and the game was called with one out to go.
Post 39 000 050 1 — 6 4 1
Post 125 000 000 0 — 0 6 2
Post 125: Bryce Safferwich 2-3, 2B; Trey Karnes 1-3; Noah Cornwell 1-2; Joe Ginn 4 IP, 4 K, 2 BB, 2 H, 0 R.
Post 39: Ryan Terrell 1-2, 2 BB, run; Lincoln Lubson 2 BB, 2 runs; Alex Cottrell 1-3, run. Lincoln Lubson CG, 6 H, 9 K, 0 BB.