By Joe Mitchin
Times West Virginian
MORGANTOWN - Wheeling Post 1 allowed 16 hits in a 10-2 loss to Fairmont Post 17 Friday afternoon at Hawley Field.
Fairmont wasted no time getting runs across the plate. Right fielder James Bolander smoked a two-RBI double in the bottom of the first inning to grab a 2-0 lead that Fairmont would never surrender.
Fairmont's Fletcher DeVaul was outstanding on the mound for Post 17, earning a complete-game victory. The right-hander allowed just two runs on five hits while striking out three. DeVaul allowed just one hit in the final six innings.
The pitcher also got it done at the plate, when he helped his own cause by slamming a two-run homer to left field in the fourth inning. It was just part of his 2-for-4, five-RBI afternoon.
"We've played in these kinds of games before," Wheeling coach Mark Delbrugge said. "Give Fairmont credit, they hit the ball. We couldn't get a key hit early and they were very good (Friday)."
Post 1 could only manage to scrape together five hits in the ballgame. Second baseman Nate Harman was credited with both of Wheeling's RBIs. Harman doubled into the gap that scored a run in the second inning and hit a sacrifice fly to the outfield that scored another in the ninth.
Along with Harman, Andrew Kowalo had two hits while Jameson Murray and Eric Crow also had one hit each.
"We haven't hit well in a while," Delbrugge said. "Even in the area tournament we didn't hit like we have. Baseball is a funny game. Sometimes hitting is contagious and sometimes not hitting is contagious."
Wheeling pitching battled to keep Post 17 off the bases all afternoon long.
Together, four Post 1 pitchers combined to walk nine hitters, including walking home a run twice. Starter Nick Naumann took the loss after lasting just 3.2 innings and surrendering four runs on eight hits.
Post 17 center fielder Austin Norman went 4-for-5 with a RBI while second baseman Bailey Mohr added three more hits. Shortstop Chris Petrucci, catcher Gage Hannah and first baseman Johnny Kesling each scratched out two hits apiece. Kesling reached base five times.
With the loss, Post 1 is eliminated from the West Virginia American Legion State tournament. After defeating Fairmont, 7-6, in the tournament opener Wednesday, Wheeling lost in consecutive days to Morgantown Post 2 and Fairmont in the double-elimination event. The team finishes the summer with an overall record of 28-11.
Another summer has ended for Post 1, but optimism remains high and the anticipation for next season can already be felt inside the dugout.
"We've got 11 guys back (for next year)," Delbrugge noted. "We have a good nucleus and I think you'll see Post 1 back here next year."