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Rangers make most of being regional baseball host

The only reason the Leesburg Rangers of Post 34 have played in the American Legion Mid-Atlantic Senior Baseball Tournament in recent years is due to being the host squad.

Now with three straight finishes in the upper half of the regional field, plus winning the whole thing before their home fans a year ago, the Rangers have shown that they most definitely belong.

Defending its Mid-Atlantic title at Fireman’s Field in Purcellville, Leesburg defeated Delaware, eventual champ New Jersey and the runner-up from Pennsylvania before bowing out in the semifinal round Aug. 6. The Pennsylvania champion from Ephrata Post 429 knocked off Leesburg for the second time in five days, surviving a back-and-forth 8-6 decision.

Ephrata fell later that afternoon to Hopewell (N.J.) Post 339 in the championship tilt. Hopewell is the Mid-Atlantic representative in the eight-team American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C.

Last year, it was the Rangers who made the World Series and got to play on TV. Head coach Brenton Peters is pleased Post 34 made a run at a repeat, including a pair of walk-off victories.

“We’ve showed that we’re a good program. We can hang in there with some of the top dogs,” said Peters of the program’s run of final-fours in a tournament featuring the champions of six states. “I think that’s going to carry through for the next couple of years.”

Peters noted the overall youth of this Rangers squad, heavy on the rising juniors in a division for 16- to 18-year-olds. Two elder Rangers, both members of last year’s World Series team, were particularly praised by coaches for their summertime leadership.

“Their leadership really sums us up,” said Peters of T.J. Holdredge and Kurt Meyer. “They hit bombs to put us ahead. T.J. came out to pitch for us and he hadn’t pitched in a long time. We could have been down and out after two games, but those guys put the team on their backs and told everybody we weren’t done.”

Peters stood alongside fellow coaches behind the third-base stands at Fireman’s Field. He watched his players, still fully uniformed, exchanged handslaps and hugs as they wished each other luck.

“When we were really put to the test, we came through and played some solid baseball,” he said.

Holdredge is a Loudoun Valley grad playing for Lebanon Valley College. He smashed homers in each of the Rangers’ last two outings - one a game-tying shot, the other to give Leesburg the lead.

In his third year as a Ranger, Holdredge played in all 31 games.

“This whole program, our guys, our coaches, we’ve been giving 100 percent, working hard,” Holdredge said. “I think one of the differences with us and other teams is that we’re a family, we always have faith that we can come back. It says a lot about the ballplayers we have here.”

Holdredge has shared a ballfield with Meyer since they could throw a ball, through high school. Like his longtime teammate, Meyer took on a leadership role on this edition of Post 34 baseball - though he only knew a few fellow Rangers prior to this summer.

“After losing that first game, sending two state champions home and giving a loss to another one was just a great job by the team,” Meyer said. “I really felt like we came together as a whole, and that’s when we started playing our best ball.”

Meyer said the future bodes well for Post 34’s baseball program, barely a half-decade old.

“The guys we got, I tell you what, they got talent,” Meyer said. “It’s gonna be fun to come back out here and see what they can do.”


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