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Coming off a successful 13-3 regular season that included a third consecutive District 3 championship, Williamsburg Post 39 is hoping to get over the hump in the American Legion state tournament.
Despite reaching the state tournament on multiple occasions, Williamsburg has never claimed a state championship. Their road to a first state title this year will not be an easy one.
Leading up to the tournament, which is being held at Riverbend High School, Williamsburg coaches had been preparing to take on Leesburg Post 34, the defending state champions, after an initial bracket was sent to them July 16. That bracket, however, was incorrect.
Roscoe Bierbrauer, the assistant manager for Williamsburg, was forwarded an updated bracket on Saturday containing the correct pairings. On his way to Fredericksburg on Monday afternoon, Bierbrauer opened the new bracket, noticed the change and began frantically alerting coaches, players and parents.
After game planning to take on Leesburg for the past five days, Williamsburg suddenly had less than 24 hours to prepare for their new, official opponent: Vienna Post 180.
Not only was the opponent different, but the time of the game was also changed. Instead of a 5 p.m. start time, Williamsburg will begin their day at 1 p.m., which put an additional strain on players and their families who were planning on making the trip up this morning.
The circumstances described above have caused stress for Bierbrauer, but not for his players. And that is exactly why he is so confident heading into the state tournament.
“The kids, they didn’t care. They couldn’t care less who we play,” Bierbrauer said about his team. “They’re a very dangerous team because of the way they play.”
Williamsburg’s style is a combination of confidence with the ability to back up their words with stellar hitting performances that have resulted in the team scoring more than 10 runs in nine out of their 16 games this season.
Williamsburg’s potent offense led by a consistent top of the rotation that includes Luke Patterson, Christopher Jones and Roger Romero. All three batters are hitting above .350 on the season, which sets up Williamsburg’s clean up hitter Sean Hughes to bring his teammates home.
Hughes, a Boston College pitching commit, has been a big part of Williamsburg’s success, sporting a stellar .553 batting average with 22 RBIs. Hughes is also reaching base on nearly two-thirds of his at-bats. Perhaps most impressively, Hughes is batting .700 with runners in scoring position.
“Those guys get on base a lot and Sean just knocks them in. He’s clutch,” Bierbrauer said.
However, if Williamsburg wants to extend its success beyond District 3, a set of teams Bierbrauer said his team has “dominated” over the past five seasons, the explosive Williamsburg offense will need to stay hot as it faces some of the best teams in the state.
With a cast of mostly new faces from the prior state tournament teams, this year’s group has the luxury of not knowing about the near misses of the Williamsburg teams before them. All that matters this year is becoming the first group to hoist a championship trophy.
“When we come to states we don’t do well. We’ve had some heart breakers,” Bierbrauer said. “For a lot of them, it’ll be a life changer – something they’ll never forget. Williamsburg is not known for baseball. There aren’t a lot of state banners up here. They’ve had some good years in the past, but it’s not a real winning atmosphere. These kids have what it takes to win a state title. They’re excited about the opportunity.”