Botetourt Post 240 plays some good ball this season, but .500 still eludes them

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The Botetourt Post 240 American Legion baseball team saw its season come to an end last week, and it wasn’t the way coach Jeremy Sink envisioned. Botetourt lost its first two games in the double-elimination district tournament at Kiwanis Field in Salem.

“I was pretty perturbed,” said Sink. “It was not at all how I anticipated ending our season.”

Post 240’s Ryan Hepler tries to make the tag at home in last week’s Legion tournament game against Rocky Mount. Photo by Rebecca Evans
Post 240’s Ryan Hepler tries to make the tag at home in last week’s Legion tournament game against Rocky Mount. Photo by Rebecca Evans

Botetourt was hoping to have its first winning season, but ended the year at 6-8. Post 240 was 6-6 during the regular season with one game that was rained out and couldn’t be made up. The team needed a good showing in the tournament to finish on the winning side of .500 for the first time in the 10 years of the program, but it wasn’t to be as Botetourt lost to Rocky Mount and Martinsville.

“We just didn’t play well at all,” said Sink. “We showed flashes of good things, but overall we hurt ourselves with errors. We made 12 errors in two games and you can’t do that against good teams.”

Botetourt got off to a good start last Friday when the locals scored six runs in the top of the second against Rocky Mount. However, Rocky Mount answered with nine runs in the bottom of the inning and Botetourt didn’t get another hit until the seventh in a 17-8 loss.

Martin Henderlite, Jaret White, Dustin Winand, Brian Ward and Ashton Swortzel all saw time on the mound for Botetourt. Dalton Lipes had two hits to lead the offense.

Now in the losers’ bracket, Botetourt played Martinsville in the second game. Again, things looked good early as Andrew Tucker drilled a home run off the Kiwanis Field scoreboard in the first inning.

Taylor Toppel started this game and pitched well through four innings. Botetourt trailed just 2-1 into the fifth, but Martinsville scored five times in the top of the fifth to open a 7-1 lead. Jame O’Neill relived, followed by Tyler Duke.

“I was hoping to save Duke for the third game, but it got to the point where I better use him because it didn’t look like there’d be a third game,” said Sink. “Our pitchers did well, but when you commit six errors you can’t expect to win.”

That ended the season for Post 240. Roanoke, Lynchburg and Big Island were still alive in the tournament going into Tuesday’s action, and the winner of the tournament will join host Danville in the state tournament.

Although Botetourt failed in the bid for a winning season, it was another step in the right direction for the locals. Sink saw a lot more positives then negatives.

“We played some of the best baseball in District 9,” he said. “We beat some good teams, and we 10-runned New River for the first time. We beat some teams that are still going.

“Going into the tournament, we were in the top four in runs scored and we had 12 home runs this season. We did a lot of good things.”

Botetourt will return most of the team, and all the starting pitchers. In four years as coach, Sink has sent eight boys on to college, including David Blanchard, Brian Mays, Josh Holsky, Caleb Dorton, Alan Watts, Brett Carroll, Tucker and Lipes. More importantly, the kids have had fun playing for Post 240.

“Everywhere we go, the other coaches wonder how we can always have a full team,” said Sink. “We have guys that want to be here. They don’t go to beach week because they’d rather be playing baseball. Our kids are very committed to this and our numbers continue to increase.”

So much so, in fact, that Sink may have some tough decisions to make for next year’s team.

“We draw from the smallest area, but we have one of the best turnouts,” said Sink. “I think that says a lot for our kids. They want to continue to get better, and we took another step forward this summer.”