- Gloucester only won two of its first eight games.
- The Dukes have won 13 straight after winning the Peninsula District tournament
- That streak included two victories each over Menchville and Woodside
Technically, it was an upset.
Gloucester, the No. 4 seed in the Peninsula District tournament, beat the first and second seeds on its way to the championship. The Dukes became the lowest-seeded team to win since 1998.
But was it really an upset?
Gloucester wasn't seeded higher because of its 2-8 start. But over the past six weeks, the Dukes have won 13 straight games. That includes two wins each over regular-season champion Menchville and runner-up Woodside.
"Honestly, this is what we should have been doing the whole time," third baseman Joey Burney said after Thursday night's 6-5 win over the Wolverines. "This is the best group I've ever played with. And we deserve everything out here. Everything we've done the past – what is it, 13 games? – we've deserved it.
"Our dream was to get this district championship, and we did it. This is my fourth year on varsity, and I've never been a part of a team that could finish it like this team. We have a lot of heart. I'm completely blown away by my teammates."
Who isn't blown away by what the Dukes, who are in the Eastern Region tournament for the first time since 2001, did? It's one of the more amazing turnaround stories you could witness.
Expected to contend for the district championship, Gloucester lost an agonizing five straight games by a total of six runs and was 1-5 as March ended. The Dukes blanked Heritage 10-0 on April Fool's Day but then lost three in a row, two out of the district.
When Gloucester beat Denbigh 14-4 on April 16, there was no clear sign of recovery. But nine days later, the Dukes extended their win streak to five games with a stunning 16-0 win over Menchville. That made them 7-6 in the PD.
"We just got sick and tired of losing," catcher Cameron Cecil said.
There would be no letdown. Two days after the Menchville win, Gloucester pounded Warwick 12-2. Then came easy wins over Kecoughtan and Heritage before a showdown at Woodside, which at the time had won nine in a row. The Dukes won that one 5-4.
Even with the winning streak, Gloucester ended up as the fourth seed. Still, the Dukes swept Warwick, Menchville and Woodside for the baseball program's first-ever PD trophy.
"It's the most amazing feeling in the world," Cecil said. "I can't describe it."
What turned it around? Just a simple matter of going back to the basics.
"At the beginning of the season, everybody was trying to make the highlight reel," shortstop David Lutz said. "You know, hitting the ball 450 feet. We just worked hard, hard, hard in practice and coach kept getting on us to hit line drives like we're capable of. And we just finally clicked."
"That's how you have a good team," Burney said. "You have to pick each other up. Like, I went 0-for-4 (Thursday), but they picked me up. I trusted every one of them. That's what our success is based on: trust."