WHEELING - Probably already the favorite to take home the hardware at the upcoming Area One American Legion tournament, Wheeling Post 1 might have gotten even better Tuesday night at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Sports Complex.
Left-hander Trevor Stewart had struggled with control issues in his last few outings, but rectified the situation against rival Moundsville. Stewart struck out eight and walked one in a three-hit shutout as Post 1 prevailed by a 10-0 count in six innings.
''We didn't play our best game ever, but it was good to see Stewy,'' Wheeling manager Mark Delbrugge said. ''Going into the Area Tournament, I told these guys that's a big confidence builder for the depth in our staff. ''
Photo by Shawn Rine/Post 1 pitcher Trevor Stewart delivers during a game Tuesday against Post 3 at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Sports Complex.
Recently, Stewart was failing to 'finish' his pitches, resulting in high pitch counts and multiple free passes.
''He knows that but just couldn't make those adjustments his last two outings,'' Delbrugge said. ''We've talked about getting his chest over his front leg and you could see the difference in his velocity and his breaking ball.
''He's a college pitcher and he had college stuff and was very good.''
Stewart did more than enough to silence Moundsville (8-13), which managed an infield single by Mark Walker in the fourth that broke up a no-hitter, followed by singles from Joe Myers (fifth) and Philip Smith (sixth), but never had a runner reach second base.
''We can't hit anything and it's been that way all year,'' Post 3 manager Bill Burkett said. ''We can't catch the ball, either.
''Those are the two biggest things in baseball.''
Wheeling scored three in the first off Moundsville starter Shane Wellman, who struck out five in as many innings. Chad Harper singled in Nate Bakaitis and one batter later, Eric Crow brought home Justice Jackson and Harper with a single.
Crow struck out with two gone in the fourth, advanced on a passed ball and scored on a two-base error to make it 4-0.
''They're not bad when Shane's on the mound (but) he said he's not thrown in a couple weeks,'' Delbrugge said of Post 3. ''He didn't have his best stuff.
''They're a little shorthanded. Bill's had some kids quit on him and (others) didn't come out that he thought would.''
Harper came through with his his third hit, a double to score Jackson, who had walked, to make it 5-0 in the fifth. Jameson Murray upped the advantage to six runs with an infield single.
Andrew Kowalo drove in a run with a groundout in the sixth, Harper singled for a fourth hit to score another, and he crossed the plate on a botched rundown to end the contest by mercy rule.
''I told my buddy that I am not overconfident about this Area Tournament because St. Marys is not bad and Weirton has already beat us,'' Delbrugge said. ''We will have to play better than we did (Tuesday) to win the Area Tournament.''
Post 1 will have to do it without leadoff man Russell Schwertfeger, who is done for the season after breaking fifth metatarsal in his foot.
''He had eight triples and is a .457 hitter,'' Delbrugge said. ''He can go from first to third faster than any kid we've ever had. When he gets on base it creates havoc for other teams.
''It's a huge loss for us. But we went 8-1 in the Beast without him, so we will have to do it without him in the Area Tournament and hopefully in the State Tournament.''
In Schwertfeger's stead, Joey Minor, previously batting ninth, has assumed leadoff responsibilities. He went 2-for-3 with a walk Tuesday.
Jackson was on base three times and scored twice, while designated hitter Nick Naumann produced a pair of hits.