MOUNDSVILLE - After a rough 2-19 start to the season, St. Marys Post 79 manager Wirt Cook is finally starting to see his team come around, especially with the bats.
It's a good thing Moundsville Post 3 manager Bill Burkett was away for an American Legion convention because he surely wouldn't have wanted to see just how far Post 79 has come.
St. Marys collected 14 hits, jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back in a 13-2 thumping in the opener of the Post 3 Tournament on Thursday at Monarch Field.
St. Marys second baseman Robbie Harper turns a double play as Moundsville’s Ryan Hughes bears down on him during action of their game Thursday afternoon.
''We hit the ball pretty hard and that has really been the case lately,'' Cook said. ''We are 11-22 now, 9-3 over our last 12 games. We have a young team but they are finally starting to hit the ball. Not to mention, we have had great pitching which has really led to us winning games.
''With the top of our lineup finally starting to hit the ball, they set the pace. Hitting is contagious and our leadoff hitter (Mitch Davis) getting a hit up the middle (Thursday) started a nice day. Once they get going, our top seven guys, there's not an easy out in that lineup anywhere.''
Davis hit the first pitch he saw from Post 3 starter Hunter Kaschke. He stole second base before D.J. Burgess doubled him home. Winning pitcher Jarrod Lough switched places with Burgess as Post 79 led 2-0.
It could have been 3-0 before an out was recorded but Lough was tagged out at home by Moundsville catcher Mark Walker trying to score on a single by Tony Brunicardi.
Brunicardi later scored on an RBI single from Ryder Bolin.
''Hitting is going to lead to us getting a lot of wins,'' Cook said. ''It makes it easy for our pitchers when Jarrod walked out with a 3-0 lead before he even threw a pitch.
''It lets him know he can work ahead, throw strikes, put the ball in play and let his defense help.''
Lough allowed one hit in the first two innings.
Post 79 doubled its lead in the third to 6-0, highlighted by a two-run double from Bolin.
Moundsville made its only charge in the home half of the third.
With the bases loaded, Shane Wellman dropped a blooper into left field to bring home Todd Schmidt as Post 79 left fielder Colby Vanoy and shortstop Brunicardi collided going for the ball.
The runners halted at their respective bases as umpires and coaches attended to the two. Vanoy stayed in the game, but Brunicardi took a knee in the ribs and was taken to the hospital.
''I don't expect him to play later (Thursday) but he is a tough kid and it wouldn't surprise me if he was back in the lineup (today),'' Cook said.
After the nearly 15-minute wait, Lough was a little off, throwing four straight balls to Walker to bring home Moundsville's second run.
The threat ended two pitches later when Kaschke lined out to third and Ryan Hughes was tagged off third.
St. Marys continued its assault, scoring two in the fourth, three in the fifth, and two in the sixth to invoke the 10-run mercy rule.
''We played flat and we have been playing flat for two nights,'' Post 3 assistant coach Denny Wellman said. ''We had a big game against Steubenville and we played well. We haven't played well since.
''(Getting in the hole in the first didn't matter) with the way we were hitting. Their pitcher was pretty good and we just couldn't throw strikes.''