By TONY VIOLA
WHEELING - When you have opportunities to score, you must do so.
By Tony Viola
That's the message Columbus Sharks Gold manager Dave Starling delivered to his team Thursday morning after it dropped a 3-2 decision to Wheeling Post 1.
The visitors from the Buckeye State matched Post 1 hit-for-hit (seven), however, Columbus left 10 runners stranded during the first game of the Edgar Martin Beast of the East tournament.
''We played pretty solid defensively, had a pretty good pitching performance,'' Starling said. ''We just left too many people on base.
''The bottom of the fifth inning ... that's where it was. We had bases loaded with no outs and then nobody scores. That's going to come back to haunt you. It certainly did.''
By all means.
Two walks and an error filled the bases for the Sharks and left Momo Felt and the Post 1 defense looking for a way out with the game tied 2-2. It came on the next at-bat as Dave Storer hit what would have been a sac fly to right field, but Tyler Ashbrook beat Scott Carter on the throw as catcher Dom Ellis tagged the runner out at home to give Wheeling two quick outs.
Nick Westhora then hit into a 6-3 groundout as Wheeling left the inning unscathed to manager Ricky Szeligo's delight.
''That gave us great momentum right there,'' Szeligo noted. ''That's a big inning for us. Momo dug his way out which is a great effort on his part.''
Things really turned Wheeling's way as Nate Bakaitis hit a leadoff double to start the sixth inning and got to second on a sacrifice bunt by Colton Coss.
Bakatis then reached third on a fly ball by Trevor Stewart and scored when the center fielder couldn't connect with the catcher on the throw.
''That's a good leadoff at-bat by Nate,'' Szeligo pointed out. ''That's what we're looking for, the leadoff guy get on. Then after that it's just the players doing their job at the plate and getting him in.''
With two outs and the winning run at the plate, Columbus again couldn't capitalize to give Post 1 the Independence Day victory.
''A great first game to open the Beast up,'' Szeligo said. ''Great pitching performance by Momo Felt. Our players did their job at the plate. Everything feel our way and a great win for us.''
Wheeling 5, Brownlees Lookouts 0
The hot start continued behind a complete-game, seven-strikeout, three-hit performance by Trevor Stewart.
Justice Jackson drove in two runs for Post 1 while Jesse Hartley and Derek Yocke plated one each. Russell Schwertfeger led the way with a single, double and an RBI,