It was a significant summer accomplishment.
In a four-week stretch, the Arlington Senior Babe Ruth age 15 All-Stars finished first, second and third in postseason Babe Ruth baseball tournaments, compiling a 9-4 overall record with two shutouts in those competitions.
Arlington won the District 4 tourney with a 2-0 record, finished third in the state event in Williamsburg with a 3-2 mark, then concluded play with a runner-up in the seven-team Southeast Region tournament at 4-2.
“This team felt it had a good chance and the ability to get to the region tournament,” Arlington manager Josh Jones said. “It was my goal as the coach to get them this far and prepare them for something they could do”.
In the region – played in Greenville, N.C., at the Guy Stadium Field complex – Arlington finished 3-1 in pool-play games, then 1-1 in the playoff round.
Arlington won its semifinal game, 7-2, then the same day was blanked by host Greenville, N.C., 10-0, in the championship game. Greenville finished 5-1 in the region and tied for first with Arlington at 3-1 after pool-play contests.
“We played very well in the region, but didn’t have much left for that final game,” Jones said. “We were down to 11 players and some of them were banged up. The guys showed a lot of perseverance.”
In pool-play games, Arlington blanked Virginia state champion Lakeside, 10-0, in the first round; lost to Julington Creek of Florida, 4-2, in game two; downed Sarasota of Florida, 4-3, and edged Greenville, Va., 10-9, in its final game.
A couple of weeks earlier, Arlington lost to Lakeside in the winners’-bracket final of the state tournament. Greenville was second in the state tourney, also defeating Arlington in the losers’-bracket final of that competition.
“It was nice to bounce back and beat those two teams,” Jones said.
Arlington trailed Sarasota by three runs in region pool-play action when Alex Goodell belted a key home run to spark the comeback. He was one of the team’s top hitters in the region tourney.
Cameron Hershey, Patrick Mellett, Chris Layman and Kyle Matsko were other top hitters. Matsko had a game-winning walkoff sacrifice fly in one of the pool-play wins. Cleanup hitter Mellett had multiple doubles and Layman drove a couple of balls off the outfield fence.
The top pitchers for Arlington were Drew Welch, Cooper Lawson, Joseph Black and Goodell.
Lawson took a no-hitter into the sixth inning in Arlington’s semifinal win. Welch ended up closing that game.
Jonah Gonzalez, Jonathan Fahey, Jack Ingram, Griggs Rupert and Trip Williams were other key players for Arlington.
Arlington earned a berth in the region tournament because the state competition became weather delayed for a week and the game schedule and pitching-eligibility rules thrown out of kilter. As a result, it was decided that three teams from Virginia would advance to the region tournament instead of two.
Starting in June and prior to the district tournament, Arlington played a number of warmup games against travel teams to prepare for the competition.
NOTE: Jones was a key player on an Arlington Senior Babe Ruth all-star district and state-tournament championship teams within the last 10 years. He also played on many other Babe Ruth teams during his playing days.