With a poor regular-season record of 4-14, not much was expected from McLean Post 270 during postseason tournaments.
Sur-prise, sur-prise, sur-prise.
The American Legion summer baseball team did quite well in two tourneys, compiling a 4-5 record and top four finishes, in first the District 17 competition, then the state tournament in Arlington to finish 8-19 overall.
McLean was 2-3 in the district tourney, good enough to earn a berth into the state event because teams from other leagues pulled out or did not field squads this summer. Post 270 went 2-2 in the state, with its losses to champion Chesapeake Post 280 and runner-up Leesburg Post 34.
McLean manager Keith Horenstein said the team got better and more competitive as the season progressed. Arlington Post 139 manager Bob Romano said all season that McLean was better than its record. Arlington lost to McLean in the state tournament.
Post 270’s roster included just three players who were high-school starters during the 2002 spring season. Legion teams consist of players of high-school age and some college freshmen.
“It took us a while to get into playing shape and learn to play together,” Horenstein said. “Eventually we started hanging with the top teams the longer we played, and we could be a scrappy bunch. Our problem all season is we had trouble getting our best players at games at the same time.”
McLean also lost multiple players during the campaign for various reasons, so the roster changed a lot. Brothers Ashton and Bradley Armour were two of the top hitters, but missed the state tournament. Ashton Armour led the team with three home runs.
Starting pitcher Teddy Gerkin was strong on the mound all season and became one of the team’s better hitters. He had two hits and an RBI in McLean’s 11-2 state-tourney victory over Stafford.
Robbie Coates, a starter for McLean High School during the spring, also had two hits and an RBI in that win and was probably the team’s best hitter. Thomas Myers, Matt Neach and Ryan D’Aquila also had two hits each against Stafford.
Kohl Strom threw a seven-inning four-hitter with six strikeouts to get the victory.
In McLean’s 3-2 victory over Arlington in the state tourney, Gerkin started and worked 62/3 innings to get the win, scattering eight hits with two strikeouts. Evan Connery struck out one to earn the save.
Neach had two hits and D’Aquila had the game-winning RBI. Nick Norton had McLean’s other hit in that win and was another of the team’s most consistent batters.
Coates and Neach each had three hits in the 11-4 loss to Leesburg, with Strom having two hits.
Coates and Myers each had two hits in the 14-4 loss to Chesapeake, and Norton doubled.
Jack Connor, Yechan Kim and Kier Strom were three of McLean’s other better hitters, and Coates did some pitching for the first time in a couple of seasons. He pitched well in relief in two district-tournament victories for McLean.
Post 270’s other victory in the district tournament was over Falls Church, 12-10.
NOTE: McLean last played in the state tournament in the 2019 season, finishing 0-2 in two close games. That came after Post 270 finished second in the district tournament that year to Vienna Post 180, which went on to win its second straight state championship that year.