For the Intelligencer
WHEELING - Wheeling Post 1 coach Mark Delbrugge says his team's most important games are ahead.
Wheeling Post 1's Justice Jackson reacts after hitting a double in the third inning of Thursday's game against Steubenville Post 33. Also pictured is Post 33 second baseman John Linn.
He hopes one of his team's worst innings is behind.
Post 1 surrendered five runs in the top of the seventh and Steubenville Post 33 took advantage to turn a one-run game into a 10-4 outburst at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Complex Thursday.
"We have two doubleheaders this weekend and then the tournament coming up," Delbrugge said. "I would have loved to win the game, but Steubenville earned it there at the end."
Post 33 struck first, but it was a 2-1 Post 1 advantage after the first inning. Post 33 took the lead again in the second and would hold it for the remainder.
Andrew Kowalo of Post 1 knocked in Eric Crow in the bottom of the sixth inning to make it 5-4, but the five-run Steubenville seventh halted any thoughts of a comeback.
"We were right in the game going into the seventh then (starting pitcher James Stewart) Stewy just ran out of gas," Delbrugge said. "We probably left him in there a little too long."
Stewart struck out four and walked six before being pulled with no outs and two runs already across in the seventh. Three more came in with Kowalo pitching, though the runs were charged to Stewart.
Justin Corsi of Post 33 led off the seventh with a double, followed by back-to-back RBI singles from Niko Petrides and Pat Pizzoferrato. Jimmy Bolyog and Branden Jones each drew walks before Gino Pierro earned an RBI on a gorund out to close the scoring.
"We were patient at the plate and made the guy come to us," said Post 33 head coach Mark Stacey. "We genuinely think Wheeling is one of the best teams we play and you have to play a good game to beat them. We played one of our better games, for sure."
On Wednesday, Post 33 fell to Tusky County, 16-2, in five innings.
"We played about as bad as we could get," Stacey said. "In football you lose and it eats at you for a whole week, thankfully that's not the case in baseball. We got the bad taste out of our mouth rather quickly and I thought we played a really good baseball game."
Bryan Pierro drew a walk to start the game and came around to score on Corsi's first double. The Bethany-bound Steubenville High School graduate singled in a run in the third inning.
"Justin's a very capable guy," Stacey said. "He's a hot and cold hitter, like a lot of hitters are. He ripped nine RBI against Moundsville and had six the other night against Toronto to go with two tonight.
"When he's passively aggressive at the plate and gets his pitch, he's a good hitter."
Bryan Pierro also had an RBI single in the third inning that scored Jones.
Pizzeferrato scored on a wild pitch in the fourth inning to make it 4-2 before Jameson Murray drove home Justus Jackson, who laced a double, in the bottom half.
Petrides had an RBI single in the fifth inning before Jackson had a chance to not only tie the game, but break it open. With the bases loaded thanks to singles from Kowalo and Joey Minor and a walk by Crow, Jackson was facing a full count from Post 33 pitcher Anthony Zorne.
He popped up to the first baseman.
"That's baseball," Delbrugge said. "Sometimes you get that hit and sometimes you don't."
Zorne finished with three strikeouts and four walks.
"He's pitching on very long rest," Stacey said. "We felt he pitched too much at times in the (high school) season. His arm was getting a little tired there. We gave him a lot of rest here and he was a little rusty, but he got out of trouble. He ends up throwing a lot of pitches but he competes to get the job done."
Mark Rest pitched the sixth and seventh for Post 33. He allowed one walk and one hit, but threw just 16 pitches over the two innings.
Post 1 was retired in order in the bottom of the seventh. It is now 20-8 and plays a doubleheader at Toronto on Saturday.
Post 33 is also on tap for a Saturday doubleheader when it hosts Weirton.