American Legion Post 284 juniors move up, look to win championship at higher level

Last season the Post 284 Pirates junior team battled successfully. The fruits of their labors were a regular season championship, a legion district championship and then a state championship. Now, many of the same players on the junior team that attend/attended L.C. Bird and Thomas Dale High School have moved up to the senior level, and are looking to win again in 2014.    

“We came out gung-ho and ready to play,” explained coach Gilbert Baber. “That’s cooled off and we’ll have to come together better as a team to do what we did last year.”

The team was a younger juniors team, therefore is a younger seniors team in a circuit where juniors, seniors and rising college sophomores are allowed to play. Thus far, the Pirates have played to a 4-3 record, struggling against opponents with pitchers who have that  year of college experience.

“That experience is absolutely huge,” said Baber. “There’s a lot of difference in the conditioning programs in college, and also a lot of difference in a kid with a good arm throwing in the low to mid 80s and a kid that’s throwing in the low to mid 90s.”

That being said, there’s plenty of college level talent on the roster, including L.C. Bird graduate Darius Gillus (Old Dominion), Thomas Dale alums Collin Fleischer (VMI), Mike Domowicz (Danville Community College) and Maurice Gothe (Hampden-Sydney). Current Virginia Wesleyan and L.C. Bird alum Austin Gammon is the team’s catcher, while fellow Skyhawk alum Joe Petree aspires to make Lynchburg College’s baseball team.

Returning from the championship team are Dale’s Cory Allgood, Blake Hartman, Virginia Military Institute verbal commit Nathan Eaton, along with Bird’s Devin Baber, C.J. Henderson, Logan Mills, and Corey Anderson, who was the state tournament MVP in last year’s championship run. Anderson manned second base for the Skyhawks last season under head coach Doug Wagner.

“We have plenty of individual standouts,” said Baber. “This experience with facing college pitching is invaluable to every member of this roster.”

Post 284, who plays their home games at Shepherd Stadium in Colonial Heights, also fields a second team that includes players from Matoaca High School – called the Bucs.

We’ll take a look at the team’s successes and progress next week. Post 137 features talent from Clover Hill, Manchester and Cosby for those western parts of the county.

The Pirates host Post 201 at 7 p.m. on Thursday, at Shepherd Stadium before both teams participate in a double-header at home on Saturday. The Pirates play at 3 p.m., the Bucs at 7 p.m.

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