ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Post 159 felt like it let one get away when it met Wheeling Post 1 last month at the Chambers' I-470 Complex. Wheeling scored four in the seventh to win, 4-3.
The St. Clairsville squad made sure there was no such repeat Tuesday evening, but Post 1 definitely made it interesting before falling, 6-4 inside Memorial Park.
"I couldn't be prouder of these kids," St. Clairsville head coach Mike Jacob said. "The fundamental baseball was big for us tonight. I thought we got good pitching, our defense was solid and we got some big hits."
T-L Photo/SETH STASKEY
POST 159 second baseman Nathan Steele and Wheeling Post 1 runner Russell Schwertfeger look for a call after a close play at second base. Schwertfeger was safe for a double. St. Clairsville prevailed, 6-4. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
St. Clairsville shot out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first against Post 1 pitcher Justice Jackson, who was touched up for four hits and was victimized by a costly error.
However, Wheeling - which boasts a solid lineup from top to bottom - didn't panic. Instead, it chipped away. Wheeling scored a single run in the second, third and a pair in the fourth to chase St. C. starter Lucas Lloyd, after four runs and 12 hits.
"We've put ourselves in a hole and we've done that several times this season," Wheeling first-year head coach Mark Delbrugge said. "We battled back, but against a very good team like St. Clairsville, it's difficult."
After St. C. turned to lefty Michael "Zuke" Jacob to begin the fifth, Wheeling produced just one hit the remainder of the game.
However, Jacob, who boasts a sneaky fastball to go along with solid off speed stuff, was the beneficiary of some solid defense. He didn't strike out a batter in his three innings of work. St. Clairsville made the play with the glove each time Wheeling seemed to have some momentum.
"We hit the ball pretty well, but we just couldn't find a hole," Delbrugge said. "We hit a lot of at 'em balls and they made every play they had to make. The Jacob boy is a nice pitcher."
Meanwhile, while the pitching and defense was dialed in, the St. Clairsville offense got going again in the fifth.
After one out, Eric Banal - a Buckeye Local product - singled. He moved to second a botched pick-off try and to third on a wild pitch.
Still standing at third, but now with two outs, Banal was driven in by Tyler Ramsay, who ripped a base hit back through the middle. Ramsay had a RBI single in the first, too.
St. Clairsville tacked on an insurance run in the sixth without the benefit of a hit. Daulton Freeman - a St. Clairsville High product - fanned to start the inning, but reached on a wild pitch and error. Nathan Steele moved him up 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt.
Freeman got to third on heads-up baserunning on a ground out to third. He then raced home on a wild pitch.
"These are still young men, so I was concerned after that game (at Wheeling) about what direction this team would go," Jacob said. "And, honestly, they've responded just how I hoped they would."
Along with Ramsay's two-hit effort, Parker Dyson also had a pair of hits.
Wheeling's Russell Schwertfeger - a Brooke High product - was on base all four times with three singles and a double. Andrew Kowalo also had two singles and a RBI.
Both teams are in tournament action this weekend. St. Clairsville takes part in the Cambridge event, starting Thursday. Wheeling, meanwhile, is in the Beast of the East and will serve as the hosts in the 19U division all weekend.
Wheeling 011 200 0 - 4 13 3
St. Clairsville 400 011 x - 6 7 1
W - Jackson lp (2K, 2BB) and Harper. Schwertfeger 3S, D; Kowalo 2S, RBI; Jackson, 2S; Harper 2S; Minor 2S, RBI.
St. C. - Lloyd (0K, 2BB), Jacob wp (5) (0K, 0BB) and Curtin. Ramsay 2S, RBI; Dyson 2S.