After Thursday's win over Culpeper, Eastern View manager Danny Nobbs stood before a disheveled mob of Carolina-blue clad players only slightly less bruised from a dog pile in front of the pitcher's mound after the final out than back-to-back games against their cross-town rival to end the season.
Players regularly crowd around coaches after games as praise is dished out and foibles are approached in the most constructive manner. But this was no ordinary postgame conference.
Accolades preceded bursts of applause and pats on the back, and each of the assistant coaches took turns speaking. Then Nobbs said something some Cyclones had been waiting to hear for years.
"Well, I think its official," Nobbs said, his hands clasped in front of him. "I think I can finally close the book on the 2009 team."
The Cyclones' 2009 squad has been the standard every team has been compared to, and the group that earned Eastern View its first Battlefield District tournament championship tends to come up a lot in conversations with the Cyclones' skipper.
"You have no idea how much we hear about it," Cyclones' pitcher Cain Finkle said after Thursday's 4-1 victory over Culpeper. "Every time we make a mistake, he brings up the 2009 team. I'm just glad we don't have to hear about it anymore."
Nobbs has every reason to save a special place in his heart for the only Battlefield team to beat Spotsylvania in 2009.
The squad went 15-4, boasted two all-state players and a right fielder, who became Culpeper's first High School All-American as a shortstop, and produced 11 college baseball players.
"That was just a really special team full of a lot of guys I coached on the JV team at Culpeper," said Nobbs, who admits, at the time, he didn't believe any team would measure up to the 2009 Cyclones.
All-state pick Brandon Mack (Chowan University) manned third base that year, will fellow all-state selection Trevor Funk (Alderson-Broaddus/Fairmont State) at shortstop. Brandon Scott (Mt. St. Mary's) was at second, Matt Ward (University of Charleston, W.Va.) was at first and Allen Bealle (Delaware Tech.) was behind the plate.
Lee Rossi (Apprentice School) started in left field that year, Josh Gardiner (Radford University), who later earned all-state and All-American honors, was in right and Matt Case (Chowan) manned centerfield.
Cody Whitlock (Patrick Henry Comm. College) was the ace of the staff in 2009, while Silas Shaw (Delaware Tech) and Geoff Ward (Fairmont St.) also saw time on the mound.
"In late August, the guys on that team were already talking about states," Nobbs said. "We went to West Virginia for a couple games that year, and one of the coaches told me he had never seen a high school team take infield practice the way we did. All of our infielders were throwing in the 80's."
The 2009 team was the first of Eastern View's many squads that have been considered at least regional contenders the last few years, but the 2013 regular season Battlefield District champion Cyclones are giving the old guys a run for their money.
"These guys are the fun bunch," Nobbs said. "They like to goof off and have a good time, but they know exactly what they have to do to win."
This season's Cyclones (16-4) have already broken the 2009 squad's records for most wins in a season, and team ERA with a 2.23. The 2013 Cyclones have already either broken records or finished in the top three in 13 of Eastern View's all-time statistical categories, according to Nobbs.
Pitcher Cain Finkle tied Matt Ward's and Whitlock's wins in a season record with six, and the junior has a chance to break it in the playoffs. Brandon Settle also tied Josh Gardiner's triples in a season record with five.
Guillermo "Nemo" Martinez (1.69) and Finkle (1.74) both broke Whitlock's ERA record, which was 1.83. Justin Gardiner broke Funk's runs scored in a season record with 31, moved into second behind his older brother, Josh, in on-base percentage (.658), batting average (.500) and walks (17) and into third in hits (29) in a season.
Ben Pittman broke Josh Gardiner's RBI record with 32 this season, while moving into second all-time in slugging percentage (.807), home runs (4) and doubles 10 in a season.
This year's Cyclones have the numbers and they already have one title under their belt. They can match the 2009 team with a district tournament championship this week, before they have a chance to become the new standard with a deep run in the Region I playoffs.
Comparing the lineups
C — Allen Bealle
1st — Matt ward
2nd — Brandon Scott
SS — Trevor Funk
3rd — Brandon Mack
LF — Lee Rossi
CF — Matt Case
RF — Josh Gardiner
P — Cody Whitlock, Silas Shaw, Geoff Ward
C — Ben Pittman
1st — Austin Huff
2nd — Justin Gardiner
SS — Brandon Settle
3rd — Jacob Jackson
LF — Jordan Orndorff
CF — Nate Yates
RF — Denver Jenkins
P — A.J. Stead, Cain Finkle, Guillermo "Nemo" Martinez
Comparing the numbers
» 4 players batting more than .400
» 5 players with at least 10 stolen bases
» 7 players with at least 10 RBIs
» 4 players with at least 20 RBIs
» 8 players with at least 10 runs scored
» Team ERA 2.24
» Wins: 15
» 2 players batting more than .400
» 2 players with at least 10 stolen bases
» 6 players with at least 10 RBIs
» 2 players with at least 20 RBIs
» 1 player with more than 30 RBIs
» Team ERA: 2.23
» Wins: 16