WHEELING - With both their fates already decided for next week's American Legion State Tournament, Wheeling and Moundsville went about the business Saturday of deciding who would represent Area One as its champion. After two games and 18 innings, that answer is Post 3.
Tanner Hanna drove in the winning run in the opener with a slicing single down the left-field line in the eighth and John Mirandy did the job with his glove and his arm in the nightcap as Moundsville earned a pair of victories by scores of 7-6 and 5-3. Wheeling, as the host city, will also compete in the state tournament.
''These were two good games and that's a good team over there,'' Post 3 manager Bill Burkett said while motioning to the Wheeling dugout. ''We let one get away the other night.
Moundsville’s John Mirandy watches his popup in the first.
''Now we're looking forward to the state tournament and we'll probably play South Charleston.''
After winning the opener with the eighth-inning heroics, Moundsville jumped on Wheeling starter Andrew Kowalo early in the second game. Post 3 scored a pair in the first as Mirandy doubled in one and Shane Wellman brought home another with a single. An inning later it was 3-0 as Mirandy singled in his second run, and Todd Schmidt made the bulge 5-0 with a two-run single in the fourth.
''That really hurt when they came out and got on top 5-0,'' Post 1 assistant Scott Castilow said. ''They're a good-hitting ballclub.''
Wheeling chipped away with a run in the fourth (Matt Carnahan single) and two more in the seventh as Dillon Williams tripled in a run and Patrick Biega, who was later cut down at home on a fielder's choice, doubled in a second. Mirandy was finished at this point, having gutted through six innings and allowing three runs to gain a victory.
Post 1 reliever Eric Crow came on in the fourth and allowed a pair of runs on four hits. Crow retired 14 of the last 16 hitters he faced.
''You could tell everyone was exhausted, so we're pleased to get those performances,'' Castilow said of Crow and also Game 1 starter Justice Jackson.
Speaking of that opener, Jackson carried a no-hitter into the fifth but led just 4-2. Post 3 busted through for three runs and as many hits in the frame, with the big knocks coming from Ryan Hughes (RBI single) and Mark Walker (double).
Moundsville added an insurance run in the seventh as Wellman doubled home Schmidt, who had singled a batter earlier.
Wheeling scored once in the eighth and appeared ready for more until the Moundsville coaching staff guessed right on a squeeze attempt and called for a pitch out. Post 1's Ethan Jacobs was tagged out on the play.
''A big play,'' Burkett said.
An error kept the game alive in the eighth and Wheeling made its rival pay with a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kowalo to tie things.
Post 1 got on the board first when Carnahan ripped a double to center in the first. They scored three more in the fourth as Jacobs plated two with a single and Williams drove in another with a groundout.
''We didn't want to be the team that got into the state tournament because we're the hosts. We wanted to do it as the Area champs,'' Castilow said. ''But our season's not over.
''I don't know who the favorite in the tournament is, but there's no one team out there that is going to blow everyone out.''