After winning the District 11 Championship by defeating their cross-county rivals Post 137, The Bucs did something they hadn’t done in a long while- qualify for the state tournament. Once they got to the double-elimination tournament, they turned in a third-place finish.
“Post 284 hasn’t been to the state tournament in at least a decade,” said Cole. “We definitely did better with two wins at state than anyone from our district in recent memory.”
Post 284 fell in the first round to Lynchburg Post 16, 6-2. They rebounded nicely, pummeling their next two opponents, Rocky Mount Post 6 and Albemarle Post 180 15-1 and 13-0, respectively. However, they ran into the eventual state champions in Vienna Post 180, and suffered 13-0 defeat to place third.
This has been a long time coming for Cole and some of the athletes on the team. In some cases, Cole has known his players for more than half their lives.
“I had a lot of kids that I’ve known and watched group up since they were ten or eleven,” explained Cole. “This group was very special and what they accomplished was just amazing. 284 is back, and I have these young men to thank for it.”
Those young men included players that attended Thomas Dale, Matoaca, Colonial Heights and Hopewell. Among them were offensive stars, such as Dale alums Drew Camp and Nathan Tuck, and pitching standouts Grayson Kirby and Kyle Chernault.
Camp, attends and plays baseball at a junior college, Louisburg in South Carolina. The goal, of course, is to earn a scholarship at a Division I school. If any coaches attended legion games this year, they saw a bat with a ton of promise. He led the team with four home runs, including one in the state tournament against Post 74 Albemarle. During the summer, Camp knocked in 30 runs in 20 games.
Tuck, a scrappy and intense middle infielder was a catalyst for Cole’s offense, reaching base frequently. The Averett University moved around the bases, too. Tuck scored 31 runs and led the team in stolen bases.
Another Thomas Dale product, Andrew Roach turned up the heat in the second half of the season. While providing stability behind the plate at catcher, his offense helped carry the team down the stretch, ending the year with a .353 batting average.
Kirby and Chernault were workhorses for the pitching staff in the absence of the team’s number one pitcher, Ryan Hazlett was on a family vacation. Pitching was indeed a team effort, as 10 different players toed the rubber for the Post 284 Bucs.
“They [Kirby and Chernault] gave us complete games just about every time they took the mound,” Cole explained. “Hunter Vaughan also threw a lot and did a great job. We used Brandon Pond in relief towards the end of the season, and he performed for us as well.”
A balanced roster sure helped to fuel the success of the Colonial Heights version of the boys of summer. With a deep postseason run under their belts, the program will look to continue that trend, and hopes to bring home an elusive state championship.