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FairfaxVienna 180 wins District 17 Legion tourney

Vienna 180 wins District 17 Legion tourney

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After a one-game derailment, top-seed Vienna Post 180 got back on track in its next contest by rallying in walkoff fashion to win the American Legion District 17 baseball tournament championship. 

Vienna (19-5) defeated No. 2 seed and defending champion Arlington Post 139 by a 7-6 score in the deciding game at Waters Field in Vienna on July 21, thanks to scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Vienna was helped by four walks from Arlington relief pitchers during that half frame.

Number-nine hitter Jonah Neihardt scored the winning run from third on a sacrifice fly to short right field by Bannon Brazell.

The district-tournament title was Vienna’s first since 2019. Post 180 lost to Arlington (16-7) in last year’s district final.

Vienna could have won the 2022 district crown the night before, but lost to Post 139, 7-0, at Barcroft Park in Arlington to force a deciding playback game in the double-elimination competition.

“We just flushed that loss right away and saved some of our top pitchers for tonight,” Vienna manager Nick Good said. “We started Mac [Kopka] on the mound tonight. He pitched great and kept us in it until he reached his pitch count and had to come out. Then it came down to the battle of bullpens, and I guess ours was a little better.”

Kopka, 5-0 this season and one of the team’s top starters, went the first six innings, allowing no earned runs, three hits and he fanned seven.

“We were really fired up for this game and I knew I had a chance to have an impact,” said Kopka, who has played for Vienna for three summers, with his older brother Ryan doing the same in previous seasons. “After last night, we put together a team effort and didn’t give up when we were down.”

Vienna trailed 5-2 after seven innings as the Post 180 hitters struggled against Arlington starter Ketz Murray. When he left the game in the eighth, Post 180 rallied against three different relievers.

Brazell’s game-winning sacrifice fly came with one out.

“In the shower this morning I was thinking about how much I wanted us to win this game,” Brazell said. “When I came to bat in that situation in the ninth, I knew it was my time to shine. The pitch I hit was off the plate and a ball, but I wanted to swing in that situation. It was fun to be able to help the team. We didn’t give up in this game and after last night when we just didn’t barrel up and get big hits.”

Brazell, who will play at Radford University, also was the winning pitcher in three innings of relief. With the bat, he doubled earlier in the contest.

Vienna had seven hits, with Neihardt and Ryan Dwyer having two each, Noah Brogan adding a double and John Klein, Robbie Reddington and Tanner Wharton having singles.

Patrick Colyar and Ethan Jones drew RBI bases-loaded walks in the ninth inning. Reddington had an RBI single in the frame, and Dwyer singled as well to help extend the rally.

Vienna did not play its best defensive game, making three errors and three pitchers combined for six walks. Arlington had nine hits.

Vienna was 4-1 in the tournament, defeating Arlington one other time, 6-3, as the teams met three times. Post 180 defeated McLean Post 270 by a 6-2 score and Fairfax Post 177 by a 2-0 final for its other wins.

For another story on Vienna’s play during the district tournament and details about its first four games, visit https://sungazette.news.

Vienna and host Arlington next advance to the eight-team double-elimination state tournament in Arlington at the Barcroft Park and Wakefield High School fields. Vienna won state titles in 2018 and 2019.

There was no state tournament in 2020, then Post 180 lost in a state-tournament play-in game last summer.

NOTE: With a 19-5 mark this season, Vienna has not had a losing season since 2005.

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