(With Park View High School slated to merge with Bluestone HS to form the new Mecklenburg County HS in 2022, the Brunswick Times-Gazette and the South Hill Enterprise are running an ongoing series that looks back at some of the outstanding athletes and coaches and their stories through the years.)
Park View High School left handed pitcher Brandon Spence had one of the great seasons in school history in 2004, going a perfect 9-0 on the mound with 109 strikeouts during the regular season to lead the Dragons to their first Southside District baseball title since 1992.
“Being able to win a district championship in our senior year with the guys I grew up playing with was a great way to end our high school career,” said Spence. “That was the first year that Coach (Michael) Greene had come back and there is no other coach I had rather won a district title with.”
Spence said Nottoway was always tough in Southside District play but Powhatan and Greensville were the big threats during the regular season.
“Greensville was really tough,” said Spence.
The Eagles were led by Jamar Walton who along with Spence were named the 2004 Southside District Co-Players of the Year that season. Spence was a First Team All-District selection at pitcher while Walton was also a first team selection in the outfield. Both players along with Park View slugger Logan Rowley were also named to the Group AA, Region I first team for their outstanding play.
Walton ended up being selected in the fourth round of the MLB Draft that summer by the Florida Marlins and spent a number of years playing professional baseball.
“I was out for redemption in my senior year against him,” Spence said recently with a laugh. He said the talented batter had hit several homeruns against him during his junior campaign.
“I was able to strike him out three of the five times I faced him in my senior year,” Spence said. “Trying to get him out was always a tough task.”
Spence said the Park View team that season was a special group.
“We only had 10 players on the varsity,” he said. “It was definitely one for the books.”
Players like slugger Logan Rowley who was also a First Team All-District outfielder, Brad Thomasson, Chris Moseley, Justin Hite Harold Cypress, Will Edwards, Adam Upton, and Steven Legg helped lead the feisty Dragons.
“Brad and I did most of the pitching,” said Spence. “That is what caught up with us in the playoffs. We had to play back to back games and that ended up hurting us.”
The Dragons won some big games down the stretch in the regular season, topping Powhatan 8-3 behind a complete-game victory from Spence who struck out 15 while scattering five hits. Rowley had a big day at the plate going 3 for 3 with a homerun and a double.
Park View routed Brunswick 21-1 late in the season as Cypress went 3 for 4 with a homerun and 5 RBI while Rowley hit for the cycle with 5 RBI.
The win that sealed the title was a 5-4 victory over Greensville in the regular season finale as Spence went the distance, recording 10 strikeouts while allowing only one earned run on five hits.
Spence and Mosley had 2 RBI for Park View in the victory while Legg added one.
Spence struck out 11 in the Group AA, Region I quarterfinals as Park View blasted Northampton 12-2 behind big offensive games from Edwards and Cypress.
The Dragons could not keep the momentum going the next day however as they fell 11-4 to Grafton in the regional semifinals, falling one game short of a state tournament berth.
Spence played with a number of travel and AAU teams during the summers in high-school including American Legion Post 79. He was selected to play in the Blue Grey Classic as well as playing with the Richmond Braves Nationals, a travel showcase team for the Richmond area.
“I was engulfed with baseball during my high-school years,” he said.
Spence had dreams of going to Clemson to play after high-school but said he did not have the grades or required SAT scores to qualify for Division I so he signed with Louisburg College, one of the top JUCO baseball programs in the Southeast.
“They recruited me after seeing me pitch at Greensville,” he said.
Spence said he was amazed at the level of talent he found at Louisburg.
“They recruited some of the best players from around the country,” he said. “We had nine players selected (in the MLB Draft) during my freshman year and 11 players in my sophomore year. Our pitchers on the weekend were throwing 93 miles plus per hour.”
Spence was used as a closer at Louisburg. The Canes went 51-9 in his freshman season and were ranked No. 2 in JUCO by Baseball America.
“It was pretty much like playing on a professional minor league team,” he said. “We had players from Venezuela and Puerto Rico. It was not unusual to see 25 to 30 radar guns set up at every game. It was unreal.”
Spence was clocked at 92 mph in the first game he pitched in his sophomore season.
“I went from 86 in high school to 92 in my sophomore year,” he said.
Spence earned his associate’s degree from Louisburg and then decided to take a semester off.
“I started sending some tape out,” he said.
Spence was planning to walk on at Virginia Tech but learned the last roster spot had been filled before he went.
“I heard from Eastern Kentucky University which was a Division I program and they offered me but I didn’t want to be 9 1/2 hours from home,” he said.
Spence ended up signing with Barton College, a Division 2 program in North Carolina.
“They had scouted me at Louisburg,” he said.
Spence played his junior year and the fall semester of his senior season but then decided to take a break to enjoy his final semester in college.
“I decided I had given baseball a good run but it was truly a job in college,” he said.
Spence works for Coca Cola Consolidated out of Sandston and his territory includes Mecklenburg, Brunswick and Greensville.
“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” he said.
Brandon is married to Abby Mills Spence and they have three daughters; a pair of 5-year old twins and a 4-year old.
“The twins played T-Ball when they were three but they are just getting to the age where they can understand the concepts. Whatever the twins do, the 4-year old also wants to do,” he said with a laugh.