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Post 2001 Ashburn wins American Legion district tournament title

Post 2001 Ashburn Knights are American Legion 15th and 16th District League champions.—Times-Mirror/Bill Clare
With a five-run outburst in the third followed by four more in the sixth, the Ashburn Knights of Post 2001 knocked off defending District 16 champ Post 21 Winchester 11-7 to win the American Legion District 16 tournament July 23 at Stone Bridge High School.

The result grants the Knights a high seed in this week's eight-team double-elimination American Legion Virginia State Tournament in Danville. As runner-up of the state's largest district, Winchester also gets a spot at states.

With a roster populated by ballplayers from Stone Bridge, Briar Woods and Freedom high schools, Ashburn (16-1) swept through the seven-team district tourney with nary a loss, including a pair of victories over Winchester (14-5).

The Knights had previously nipped Winchester 1-0 July 21 at Fireman's Field in Purcellville.

"We've all played together for the past five, six years," said the Knights' Dave Mocabee, a recent Stone Bridge grad gearing up for his baseball career at James Madison University. "I just think we're a tight group of guys and we play really well together."

Mocabee, a first-year Knight, was an instrumental part of Stone Bridge's 2015 state championship. He noted that Ashburn was well-prepared to handle the pressure of winning as the top seed.

"A lot of us have had targets on our backs with our high school teams, so we know how to buckle down and play our best," the pitcher and infielder said.

Baking on a Saturday afternoon, with temperatures in the mid-90s and humidity to match, the Knights mercifully concluded the tournament after the day's first game, eliminating the need for a winner-take-all follow-up.

Left-hander Brett Kreyer tossed two innings before giving way to another lefty, Caleb Barnes. Barnes worked three frames into the sixth before being relieved by righty Jack Jaekle, who finished off the final four for the win.

Meanwhile, Ashburn's bats came alive in their second look at Winchester starter Joel Smith. Dylan Beck whacked an RBI single to center on a first-pitch curveball, then Nathan Davis brought him around with a sizzling liner into right-center for a double.

Mocabee banged the first pitch he saw through the middle to plate Davis. Josh Greenberg followed suit with an RBI knock.

Winchester scored two in the fifth and two more in the sixth to tie matters at 5-5, but Ashburn responded with a four-spot in the home half of the sixth. When Winchester scrapped across two in the eighth, the Knights matched it in their turn.

The Knights put an exclamation point on the district title game, spinning a spectacular 6-4-3 double-play for the final outs.

Ashburn manager Bob Hough complimented the potency of his batting order.

"I really don't have a hole in my lineup, one through nine," he said. "Even on my bench, I don't feel like I'm losing anything. Very solid ball team up and down the roster."

Hitting in the cleanup spot, Mocabee reached base four times and the only time he didn't, he drove home a run with a sacrifice fly. He finished with a single, a double, two walks, a run scored and that RBI.

Ashburn now looks to be the one team to emerge from the state tournament with a berth in the Mid-Atlantic Region tourney, opening Aug. 3 in Purcellville.

"We knew coming in it would be a fun season," Mocabee said. "We just want to play our best [at states] and hope that will get us into regionals."

-Photos by Bill Clare

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