By SHAWN RINE
WHEELING - The Wheeling Post 1 bats continued to strike with force Saturday at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Complex, during action of the 26th annual Edgar Martin Beast of the East Baseball Tournament. This time however, the opponent struck back.
Coming off an 8-7 loss earlier in the day to the Pickerington Predators in which they blew a 7-3 lead, Andy's 9ers scored four runs in the first against Wheeling and never relented in a 13-8 victory that put them, and not Post 1, in today's 19-and-under championship game.
The 9ers received five hits and seven RBI from Nos. 6 and 7 hitters Dan Gail and Thomas Glassman, helping deny Wheeling, the country's oldest American Legion post, a chance to play for its first Beast title.
''Usually when you play two games in a day and lose that first one, it's tough to rebound,'' Wheeling manager Mark Delbrugge said. ''They came up and got four on us in the first inning and put us in a tough hole.
''I'm really disappointed for the 11 guys that won't be with us next year. I thought maybe we would have a chance to win a championship.''
Andy's starting and winning pitcher Ryan Wilson induced a lot of first-pitch swings from an ultra-aggressive Post 1 team, and that resulted in his only throwing 86 pitches in a complete-game effort. He allowed 14 hits and the eight runs, but Wilson's offense more than picked up the team.
''He battled,'' Andy's coach Scott Gray said. ''He pitched our first game of the tournament and wasn't very good.
''He made a few big pitches when he had to, to get out of some big situations.''
The 9ers got four in the first on three hits, two walks and a hit batter. Jeff Grudzinski singled in a run, Gail walked with the bases loaded and Glassman sent a shot through the legs of Post 1 starter Trevor Stewart to plate two more.
Wheeling cut the lead in half in the second as Eric Crow and Nate Hardman rapped back-to-back RBI singles, but the 9ers took control for good in the third, sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring five times to make it a 9-2 count.
Gail and Glassman each picked up an RBI on a single and sacrifice fly, respectively, followed by a two-run double down the right-field line by left-handed leadoff hitter Cody Paterniti. Sean Farrell collected his second single of the inning, this one to score the ninth run.
''This was winner-take-all right here. Whoever won this was going to win our bracket,'' a relieved Gray said. ''We found some holes and some guys came through, and that's what this is all about.
''This is a struggle with six games in three days. You could be hitting .200 for the year but if you get hot in the tournament, you're good.''
Wheeling collected three straight singles - Nick Naumann, Hardman and Joey Minor - with one out in the fourth, but only managed a single run, that coming on Russell Schwertfeger's fielder's choice.
''That's how baseball works. Some days you find those holes and sometimes you don't,'' Delbrugge said. ''We had a couple chances to really cut into the lead and we hit the ball right at them.''
Post 1 cut the deficit to 9-5 by scoring a pair in the fifth. Andrew Kowalo took advantage of the third baseman playing deep and reached on a bunt single, followed by an infield hit from Justice Jackson - two singles, double - into the hole at shortstop. Chad Harper scored Kowalo with a double to right-center and Crow's groundout to short brought home Jackson.
Just when it looked as though Wheeling, which has 39 hits the last two days, was poised for a comeback, Andy's snuffed out the rally with four runs in the top of the sixth, highlighted by run-scoring hits from Gail and Glassman, as well as a two-run double off the bat of DH and No. 9 hitter Dan Zagaria.
Needing eight to tie in the bottom of the seventh, Post 3 received an RBI infield single from Harper and a two-run base hit from Naumann, but it wasn't enough.
''You've got to be a man to play in this tournament,'' Gray said. ''That's why I love this tournament.
''We played two 8 o'clock games in a row and that's tough. I told them (Friday) night that you can't win a game tonight, but you can lose one. So go to the hotel room and get to bed.''
In the second game, Wheeling continued to pound the baseball, bangiong out 18 hits in a 13-7 victory against the Independent Players.
Eric Crow had three hits, including a double and drove in five runs to lead the onslaught.
Catcher Chad Harper had four singles, Jackson and Andrew Kowalo had three base hits and Jameson Murray and Russell Schwertfeger had two singles each.
Jackson went the distance and worked around nine walks by holding the Independent Players to five hits.
Wheeling (17-7) has 82 hits in six Beast games so far and will play in the second-place pool game today at John Marshall.