WHEELING - Wheeling manger Tom Pasco knows that for his team to be successful in the West Virginia American Legion Baseball Tournament, it is going to have to do the little things to win games.
Wednesday night it was a matter of not doing the little things which in the end amounted to a big loss.
Shaun McCoy and Matt Robbins scattered seven hits while Fairmont Post 17 received four hits alone from team Most Valuable Player Joe Casalinuova and a big ninth inning, two-run single from Brent Osborne in gaining an important 5-1 victory against Wheeling in opening day action of the state tournament at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Sports Complex.
Wheeling’s Nick Nauman delivers to the plate.
The loss dropped Post 1 into a must-win 3 p.m. battle with South Charleston in the double-elimination event. The Kanawha County club, which is the three-time defending champion, sent Moundsville to the loser's bracket yesterday.
Meanwhile, Coach Marty Morgan's Fairmont team has a winner's bracket contest with Elkins this evening at 7 p.m. with the survivor of that contest being in great shape.
"It's a tough loss, but we are not done yet," Pasco said. "I had to rant and rave and get some frustrations out after this one, but 30 seconds later it was all forgotten and we will move on to (today)."
While Post 17 stranded runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings, Wheeling managed to strike first on a leadoff walk to Matt Carnahan and Jon-Michael Brunner's run-scoring single in the second.
Fairmont, which stranded 12 runners in the contest, including six in scoring position and at least one in every inning except the ninth, knotted the count in the fourth. Casalinuova ripped a double to start the frame and scored on Jamie Allard's two-out fielder's choice for a 1-1 score.
Post 17 took the lead for good an inning later with Trevor Malnick stroking an RBI double and later scoring on a wild pitch for a 3-1 upper hand.
Wheeling threatened in the seventh, eighth and ninth frames but could not push a run across. Post 1 had the bases loaded with two down in the seventh before Nick Breen's rope to center was tracked down.
In the eighth, Carnahan tore a leadoff double down the left-field line but never advanced past third and a pair of two-out singles in the ninth went for naught with a runner picked off trying to advance to third, after Osborne had pushed the margin to 5-1 in the top of the inning.
McCoy pitched into the seventh, fanning three and walking four, to get the win while Robbins pitched out of a couple of jams to shut things down late.
"We were very fortunate (Wednesday)," Morgan said. "We pitched well and this was just two good teams playing a good game. That was also a huge two-run hit we got there in the ninth.
"I think both of our guys threw the ball well and managed to stay ahead in the count, which was a big plus. And we got some timely hits that they didn't and that is just baseball.
"It's nice to get that first win, they you just hope you can continue to peck along and keep going."
Pasco, meanwhile, was also happy with his pitching, but not so much with his hitters.
"I am extremely pleased with how our two kids pitched, but they sure didn't get any help at the plate," he mentioned. "We were in situations to put up some runs, all we needed to do was put the ball in play and it just didn't work out.
"Unfortunately, we missed some signs and just did not execute. If we had, I think we could have chipped away and got some even better situations. We preach doing the little things right, but sometimes they get ignored and it costs you. (Wednesday) they cost us.
"We feel good coming into Thursday with Ethan Jacobs taking the mound for us. There is a lot of confidence in him, we just need to get things done at the plate."
Before Wednesday night's finale, former Wheeling Post 1 Head Coach Bill Walter was honored for his contributions to the program.
Walter coached Post 1 for 17 seasons, including a remarkable seven year run of state championship teams while winning more th an 600 games. He also coached four players that went on to play professional baseball.