At this point in last year's American Legion baseball season, Falls Church Post 225 was well out of contention for the district title and ended their season with a disappointing loss in the play-in game to the Northern Virginia District 17 tournament.
However, with a new name and a revitalized team, Post 225, now called Post 130 —named after the American Legion Post on North Oak Street in Falls Church — has jumped out to a record of 9-8 and are only four games back from first place.
The league, which is comprised of mostly college-age players from throughout the Northern Virginia region, is led at the moment by Vienna Post 180 (12-3), many of whose members are from Oakton High School, who advanced to the AAA state tournament this past season.
Many of Post 130's first-half losses can be attributed to some defensive lapses late in games, but with a full roster back from vacation, coach Frank Solomon’s team is ready to make a late-season run at the district title, and hopefully, the state tournament.
Much of the recent success of the team falls squarely on the shoulders of the surging offense, led by centerfielder Tony Collins.
Collins, a 2006 graduate of Falls Church High School, has led the charge from the leadoff position, swatting nine home runs and hitting well over .500 for the season. Collins hit over .600 last season for Montgomery Community College and has certainly brought his offensive prowess into the Northern Virginia region.
“Tony is a quiet, respectable player who leads the way for our team both with his strong bat and his defense in the outfield,” Solomon said.
Fellow Falls Church High alumnus David Acosta, who graduated this year as the career strikeout leader of the local high school, has teamed up with Collins to bolster the offense of Legion Post 130.
Acosta, who will pitch at Christopher Newport University in the upcoming spring season, has chipped in three home runs, a plethora of doubles, and an average that rivals Collins’ for the team lead.
Recent George Mason High graduate Jimmy Piscopo has been an offensive catalyst for the squad, reaching base nearly half of the time. Piscopo will continue his baseball career at Randolph-Macon College next season.
During the spring season, Marshall High sophomore Trey Thomas had only six hits. However, three of those were blasted for home runs. Thomas's power has carried over to the Legion squad, as he has hit four big flies so far this year.
Rising Mason senior Mike Straub has also contributed to the recent offensive outbursts, hitting his first career home run.
Post 130 pitchers have done an admirable job of holding opposing teams to as few runs as possible. Greg Goldsmith, a rising junior who attended Bishop O’Connell but plans to transfer to Marshall in the fall, heads the strong starting pitching staff. Coupled with Acosta and rising Marshall senior Justin Britt, the Post 130 starters have kept the pitching strong throughout the year.
“All three of these guys have been solid this season,” commented Solomon. “Their pitching has kept us in many games.”
Daniel Medric, a Marshall senior, Walter Beck, a senior from Falls Church, and Straub have provided ample mid-inning support over the course of the season, while Thomas Jefferson High graduate Tom Warner (UVA) has handled the closing duties.
Backing up the pitching has been the flawless play of shortstop Kevin Nutter, while the strong arms of Collins, Thomas and Tom Pacheco (Marshall High) in the outfield have kept opposing runners at bay.
At press time, the team stood in fifth place, following two straight close losses to Centreville Post 1995 (6-8) and Arlington Post 139 (14-5). The Falls Church post takes the field this Thursday against Alexandria Post 129, who are just a half game back of Post 130.
The top eight teams qualify for the district tournament, held in mid-July, while the top three teams move on to the state tournament.
“We feel as though we have a real shot at being ranked in the top three come the end of the season,” said Solomon. “With a full squad back, we will make a concentrated and solid effort to win the district playoffs and move on to states.”