WHEELING - As the season moves along, Wheeling Park is becoming more of a complete baseball team.
Evidence of that was on display Saturday afternoon at Patriots Field where Coach Mike McLeod's squad took a pair from Cambridge, 7-0 and 13-8, to continue one of the best starts in school history at 9-0.
''We knew it was going to be a battle against these guys,'' McLeod said following Game 1. ''I told the guys we had to perform all aspects of the game.
Wheeling Park’s Justice Jackson delivers a pitch during Saturday’s game against Cambridge.
''We have to be able to bunt and move guys over and things like that. That's what we keep preaching.''
If it was solid pitching McLeod was looking for against the Bobcats (3-4), he got it. If it was timely hitting, he got it. And if it was defensive gems, he got those, too.
''We're doing a little bit of everything,'' McLeod said. ''We've gotten back-to-back shutouts and back-to-back, seven-inning outings out of Andrew Kowalo and Justice Jackson. That helps makes things easy.''
Jackson was nearly flawless in Saturday's opener. Jackson scattered four singles, struck out four and walked none. He also shined with the glove, having a hand in six putouts.
Jackson was one of four players churning out multiple hits. He, Jesse Hartley (who also had four putouts) and Ethan Jacobs all laced two singles and plated a run. Leadoff hitter Eric Banks doubled, singled and knocked in a run.
Banks' stand-up double to the gap in right-center early in the sixth helped jumpstart the Patriots' four-run inning that put the game away.
''When he becomes the baseball player I know he can become he will be absolutely phenomenal,'' McLeod said. ''He's still getting the rust off him. We're talking about a kid who hasn't played in two years.
''Sometimes a single turns into a double ... and sometimes a triple when he's up.''
With one out in the sixth, Jacobs singled home pinch runner Julian Figaretti to make the score 4-0.
Next, Kowalo lined a shot to Cambridge shortstop Devon Francis. His throw to second was off line and Banks scored, while Jacobs and Kowalo moved to third and second, respectively.
Jackson followed with a liner to third, which again resulted in an error. Jacobs scored on the play to increase Park's lead to 6-0. Chalmer Moffett's groundout scored Kowalo from third to cap the scoring.
The Patriots put up innings of six and five runs in the Game 2 triumph. Hartley had three hits and three RBI, Figaretti collected two doubles and three RBI and Jacobs slapped two singles, a double and knocked in two.
''We have an unselfish bunch,'' McLeod said. ''We're just going to keep working hard and, hopefully, by May, we'll be ready for the tournament.''