Progress Index. The article mentions Seth and John Wagner - brothers who will be joining the HSC family this fall. Join me in welcoming both of them!
On the night LeBron James decided he will spend the next four years in Miami on the one-hour ESPN broadcast called "Decision," many of the Colonial Heights Post 284 have secured their plans for the next four years. And the list is quite impressive. The Pirates even have one player, Connor Kauffman, who will play in the Ivy League at Cornell. Other Pirates who will play at the next level - Bill Cullen (VCU), Ryan Moore (Chowan), Berkley Hawkins (VMI), Seth Wagner and John Wagner (Hampden-Sydney). ...
On the Bucs side of the field, with Ryan Montgomery who already suits up at Norfolk State while Andy Runion will play at Mars Hill, Logan Walker at Bowling Green, Michael Howerton at James Madison, Tyler Reed at Virginia Wesleyan and Josh Ayers at Methodist. There are others who have made plans and some who have not decided whether to go for the school and academics or attempt to walk on. But the important thing is they young men are headed to college, and they have baseball to thank for it. You won't get much denying that baseball has been a conduit to their life and the focal point that they can back to. It taught them teamwork, camaraderie, discipline but more importantly it taught them to be a man.
Plus, when you line up on the field at Shepherd Stadium, you can look left and then look right and somewhere find a player that is better than you are. You can see it on the face and in the expressions of Bucs center fielder and pitcher - Runion - there is love for the game."I feel like that is the way it has always been," Runion said about his time in travel ball. "But in American Legion baseball it is the same way and maybe more so. You learn how to deal with it and you meet all kinds of people The best part by the end of the year everyone seems to come together."Runion, a left-hander that throws three pitches on the mound and is working on the fourth, made his decision early in the fall to get the pressure out of the way. "I can't wait to get to college and play ball," Runion exclaimed. "Actually I am ecstatic. I had to make my decision early because it was kind of messing with me and I wanted to get the stress out of my life." Runion, who was 4 for 5 in the Bucs 14-11 win over the Pirates on Thursday, said he was the beneficiary of some good training at Prince George. "Of course Coach Mickey Roberts was there but I think playing with John-John [Bivens} who passed his knowledge down to Sam Roberts and Jackie Bradley Jr. and that baseball knowledge was passed on to me." When asked who Runion mentor this season, he quickly said Jaydee Johnson. It is the game that just keeps on giving. Runion, who boast a 3.0 GPA in the classroom and was a second team all-Central District performer, epitomizes the enthusiasm that exudes through the Colonial Heights Post 284 legion program. Another player for the Bucs, who had a terrific three-hit night in the victory, was Nathan Chamberlin. The catcher from Matoaca, who homered over the left-field wall is still weighing his decisions.
He will visit Virginia Wesleyan today and expects a visit from the George mason coach next week. The late-bloomer had one of best senior season anyone could imagine with his late-game heroics. "Its been a little laid-back playing but all the players from different areas have meshed together and we are all trying to win," Chamberlin said. It has been a great experience. But more so in order to be able to play at the next level you best keep playing baseball and there is not better level than legion. Chamberlin like Runion loves and respects the game. Both agree that watching five Division 1 players step to the plate for Matoaca, is a beautiful site. "I was in the outfield and remember looking in and saying this is great," Runion said. However for Chamberlin, especially early-on, he might have gotten lost in the shuffle. "I think the thing that happens with me was the lack of exposure I got during my junior year," Chamberlin said. "So I have to make up for it now. But this year I really got a chance to play a lot and my game got better. Chamberlin, who has a 3.5 GPA and was a second team all-Central District performer, has enjoyed the journey. "There is something different about baseball," Chamberlin added. "In other sports you might be a good athlete, and just show up and play, but in baseball is a game you have to learn and have to develop in your younger years. All of these guys have been playing since they were young and couldn't be playing at the legion level without developing the skill." What is the great thing he learned during the journey? "I learned from our coach Fred Stoots," Chamberlin said. "It doesn't matter what you did that day or that week. But when you come out to play baseball that is all gone when you step out on the field."
Pirates catcher Seth Wagner, who had a 3.9 GPA at St. Christopher's School in Richmond said legion ball is nothing like high school baseball. "It is not like school ball," Wagner explained. "Here you throw good players together, it is really competitive and it motives you to stay on your game. And in the end, you hope it all comes together." Wagner, who is going to Hampden-Sydney on an academic scholarship, said he will attempt to play both football and baseball for the Tigers. "I knew a lot of these guys when I grew up and played travel ball with them," Wagner explained. "This past week with wins over Southside Post 137, Midlothian Post 186 and Lakeside Post 125 it might have been the best four-game stretch of the season. Wagner shares his affection for the game with his father Doug Wagner, who is the Pirates coach, and his brothers. "We've grown up on baseball," Wagner said. "So naturally that made us closed and I love the game." As Wagner, Runion and Chamberlin will attest, the game has loved them back.