With the regular season complete, Vienna Post 180 finished first in the standings with a 13-1 record and now enters the American Legion District 17 baseball tournament as the top seed.
“Our team has been evolving,” Vienna manager Nick Good said. “This is a grinding group that does everything well, but maybe not anything great, and that works for us. We have good team speed, and we plan to use that in the tournament.”
Vienna’s first game of the six-team, double-elimination tournament is scheduled for Monday, July 19 at Waters Field against No. 5 seed Falls Church Post 130. Post 180 enters the tournament with a seven-game winning streak, including two shutouts.
Vienna’s most experienced player is three-season team member Allen Jager. With a slight elbow injury, the Most Valuable Player of the 2019 state Legion tournament will be the designated hitter in the district tourney. The Oakton High School graduate was a freshman on the Division III Cabrini University baseball team during the spring. He is staying in the area this summer, living in a hotel with his mother, so he can play one last season of Legion baseball.
“Allen loves Legion baseball and he wanted to play one last season,” Good said.
Yager had two triples and three RBI in Vienna’s recent 13-0 win over Alexandria 123.
Other top returners for Vienna (13-2 overall) are pitcher/infielders Hunter Moss and Arvind Rathnashyam, who leads the team in RBI and homered in a recent game, and had four RBI in another. Moss had two hits in a recent contest.
Other returners from last summer’s shortened season are pitcher Zach Danielczyk, pitcher/outfielder Brett Harrelle and pitcher Mac Kopka, who threw a five-inning, one-hit shutout with seven strikeouts in the 13-0 win.
The rest of the roster are newcomers, with all contributing in various manners.
Ian Babey and Jacob Wechselblatt are top pitchers. Wechselblatt also plays second base and was one of six Vienna players with two hits in a recent 14-0 win. Others with two hits in that game were Matt Allen, Mitchell Vedder, Max Nathan and Carter Whitman. Tyler Bennet had three hits, including two doubles, in another recent contest and Jake Stiehl tripled and had two hits. Jordan Murakami starts at third base, Michael Guarino is one of Vienna’s catchers, and Patrick Colyar is a second baseman.
John Klein joined the team late in the season and has been a big offensive contributor. He will play baseball at Washington & Jefferson College, Whitman at Lynchburg University and Moss might attempt to make the team at Roanoke College.
Allen, who plays baseball and wrestles at Division III Emory & Henry College, is one of Vienna’s top hitters and catches.
NOTES: Bennet did not play high-school baseball during the spring. Instead, the speedy centerfielder and leadoff hitter was a track and field multi-event standout for South Lakes. He won Liberty District long- and-triple-jump championships, was first in the 200 and 400-meter races, was second in the pole vault, third in the high jump and he anchored the winning 4×400 relay. Good learned Bennet stressed an interest in playing Legion ball, and he was invited to join. “He is phenomenally fast,” Good said . . . Good won his 100th game this season as manager of Vienna 180. He became the manager in 2017 and has 108 career victories entering the 2021 district tournament.