WHEELING - What a difference one day made.
Facing elimination on the the second day of the West Virginia American Legion Tournament, Wheeling Post 1 found itself staring into the eyes of three-time champion South Charleston Post 94 on Wednesday afternoon.
However, after not being able to pick up a big hit in Wednesday's loss to Fairmont Post 17, Manager Tom Pasco watched his squad score seven runs with two outs to keep alive their dreams of a title.
Wheeling’s Patrick Biega (9) crosses home plate in the third inning as Post 1 stayed alive in the W.Va. American Legion State Tournament by routing South Charleston on Thursday at the I-470 Complex.
Ethan Jacobs allowed six hits in eight-plus innings, throwing a whopping 145 pitches while fanning two and walking seven, while Jesse Hartley, Patrick Biega and Matt Carnahan provided big portions of the offense as Post 1 rolled to an 8-3 victory against powerful Post 94 at the J.B. Chamber's I-470 Sports Complex.
Not only did the victory move Wheeling to 22-10 on the season and give Pasco, who is leaving for a teaching job in South Carolina, at least one more game to coach Post 1, it also guarantees an Area One team will play on Saturday as Wheeling takes on arch-rival Moundsville Post 3 at 3 p.m. today.
Manager Bill Burkett's Post 3 team ran off two victories last Saturday over Post 1 to capture the Area One championship.
''I am just so happy for this team to stay alive,'' Pasco said. ''I love these kids and it is just great to extend this to at least one more game. It is great to live another day, these state tournament games are just so much bigger than the regular season games.''
There were far too many contributors to mention in a game that every position player had at least one hit with the exception of Jacobs, who provided all of the contributions his teammates needed on the mound.
After combing to go 1-for-9 with a double, one run scored and three strikeouts Wednesday, Hartley, Biega and Carnahan collected five hits, five RBI, scored four runs and a home run Thursday.
Wheeling got the offense going early, pushing across three in the second and two more in the third to take control. Jon-Michael Brunner and Haydon Stanley each had run-scoring singles in the second with the third run crossing the dish on an error.
After score a pair of two-out tallies in the second, Hartley's two-run, two-out base hit to right in the second upped the count to 5-0.
Post 1 manufactured its sixth run in the fifth on a leadoff walk to Biega, a sacrifice bunt from Brunner and Hartley's run-producing single, again with two away to make it 6-0.
Following two quick outs in the sixth, Nick Breen reached on a base hit before Carnahan sent a 3-1 laser over the left-field fence to set off a wild celebration and push the margin to 8-0.
South Charleston had its chances in the later frames, getting their leadoff hitter on base in the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth frames. However, Jacobs was able to induce three ground-ball double plays to end threats.
Post 94 did get a sacrifice fly RBI from Daniel Ramsey and a two-run single from Josh Kiser in the ninth, but Eric Crow recorded the final two outs to close the game.
''Getting big hits is nice, especially just coming off a string of four games in which it went the other way for us,'' Pasco said. ''But I can't say enough about the job that Ethan Jacobs did (Thursday).
''He battled all day long, changing speeds and locations while Crow came in and gave us a big shot in the arm late.
''And I could not be happier for Jesse Hartley having the game he did. He is a great kid who sticks in there. He really has only played here and there late in the season but he did some big things for us out there and I am extremely proud of him.
''As for the double plays, we did a little tinkering since the Area One tournament and it seemed to pay off. The guys really got the ball out of their gloves quick and there is no question that is the pitcher's best friend.''
Hartley finished with three singles and three RBI while Andrew Kowalo singled twice and doubled. Hartley and Biega also did an outstanding job in the field, making numerous fine plays along with their infield mates.
Jacobs and Hartley shared team most valuable player honors.