BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

Post 1 Comes up Short in Legion Tourney

Following the final out of Morgantown Post 2’s thrilling 6-5 victory against Wheeling Post 1 in the West Virginia American Legion state championship game on Sunday afternoon, a reporter suggested to winning coach Ernie Galusky that both teams had put up a heck of good fight.

”Heck is not a strong enough word for it,” Galusky replied. ”It was a hell of a fight. Gosh, Wheeling is such a good team and for us to beat them in back-to-back days is a tremendous accomplishment for our guys,”

Morgantown, the defending state champion but probably the second best team in the tournament behind South Charleston according to many observers, rallied from a 5-1 deficit after six innings to deny an equally determined Wheeling club its first West Virginia crown in 20 years.

The boys from Post 3 scored four times with outs in the bottom of the seventh to knot the score and then got the winning run an inning later on back-to-back doubles from Victor Sivaneri and Ben Miller.

”People this week have been making a big deal about South Charleston having 18 first-team all-staters on their roster and we have zero,” Galusky stressed. ”We play together as a team and we believe in each other. I told the kids in the hotel last night that we had to put the gloves on and when the bell rings, start punching and see who is standing at the end. We might have won but we certainly didn’t knock Wheeling out. They were right with us until the final out.”

While there was celebration in the Morgantown dugout, the gritty kids wearing Post 1 uniforms had to overcome their great disappointment.

”We’re kind of devastated,” Post 1 Coach Tom Pasco said after spending several minutes consoling his players. ”We fought our buns off and we had the defending champions on the run. It’s tough to accept right now but Morgantown has a great team that is well managed. Those kids know how to win and our guys are learning how to win. The effort our guys gave coming out of the loser’s bracket without ever giving up or blowing up was awesome. We fought and that is all you can ask. We showed up every day all week and competed. I couldn’t be prouder of a bunch of guys than I am right now.”

The second-year Wheeling coach also gave out much praise when discussing the gutty pitching performance Post 1 received from Donnie Platt. The former Wheeling Park High School stalwart took a big heart and a weary arm to the mound Sunday after having tossed a complete game victory in the tournament opener Thursday and pitching three-innings of relief Saturday when Wheeling rallied for a 12-11 victory against South Charleston in an elimination game.

”If you asked if I thought Donnie could have taken it as far as he did, I would have said ‘no way.’ The effort he put forth for the team was fantastic. I don’t have enough words for it,” Pasco said.

Platt, coming off a solid season pitching for the University of Charleston last spring, kept Morgantown off the scoreboard until the bottom of the fifth inning. That’s when Post 2 leadoff hitter got into a Platt fast ball and yanked the ball over fence in right field for his second home run in as many games against Wheeling.

The ball, aided by a strong wind blowing across from center field to right, apparently fooled Post 1’s Dillon Mangino as he took a couple of steps in before turning around and racing back toward the fence to no avail.

The Wheeling offense rebounded in the top of the sixth for a couple of runs to put Platt on top 5-1. Christian Lewton opened the rally by dropping a popper over second base for a single. Clark Sambucco, a defensive star in center field throughout the tournament for Wheeling, followed Platt to the plate and drilled a double down the right-field line, sending Lewton to third. It was Sambucco’s third hit of the day.

The squeeze bunt, which proved to be an effective weapon for Wheeling throughout the tournament, came into play again. With Lewton breaking from third, Chris Kiedaisch dropped the ball down in front of the plate and ended up getting credit for an RBI base hit as the Morgantown infielders failed to cover first base. Lewton’s run pushed the lead to 4-1 and Platt flied out along the right-field line, bringing home Sambucco with the fifth run.

Wheeling had taken a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Mangino singled and advanced to second via a wild pitch. Lewton walked before Mangino took third on Sambucco’s fly out to right field. Pasco then called for the suicide squeeze. Although Andrew Kozusko missed the bunt attempt, Morgantown’s catcher let the ball get be him, allowing the run to score.

Post 1 loaded the bases as Kozusko ended up being hit by a pitch and Kiedaisch walked. With two outs, Hammel lined a two-run double along the left-field line, plating Lewton and Kozusko.

At this point, Parsons was replaced on the mound by Eric Wyant, grandson of former West Virginia great Fred Wyant.

The second Morgantown hurler retired the side without further damage and lasted until Wheeling’s three-run rally in the seventh. Sinaveri replaced Wyant during the inning and eventually got credit for the victory in relief.

Just when it looked like Platt might have enough to get through the seventh, the Morgantown bats exploded. Sivaneri singled with one out and Scott Dicken added a base hit after the second out was recorded, bringing up Bryant Woods.

The Post 2 center fielder slashed a double down the left-field line, making it a 5-2 game. Tyler Barnette then found the right center gap for another two-base hit, scoring both Dicken and Woods.

This also meant the end of the day for Platt, who got a warm reception when he reached the dugout from his teammates and coaches. Hammel, who went the distance in a victory on Friday, moved from second base to the pitcher’s mound but allowed the tying run to score as Barnette stole third base and crossed the plate on a wild pitch.

With one out in the eighth, Morgantown scored what proved to be the winning tally after Sivaneri doubled down the left-field line and Miller shot one to right that nearly went out but landed at the base of the fence for his RBI double.

With one turn at bat left, Wheeling refused to go down quietly against Post 2 reliever Michael Martin, who had picked up a save during Saturday morning’s victory against Post 1.

After Hammel had fanned to start the ninth, Ryan Sengewalt drew a walk after a great at-bat. Heath Beecher went the opposite way against the left-handed sidewinder and punched the ball into right for a single. Dillon Mangino, who had singled twice earlier, took a called strike three on an extremely close pitch, leaving the game in the hands of Lewton. The Park High senior-to-be swung hard but just got under the ball, popping it up along first base where Miller squeezed it for the final out.

While Wheeling finishes the season with a 27-14 record, Morgantown (28-12) now advances to the regional tournament taking place next week at Colonial Heights, Va. Last season, Post 2 made it all the way to the regional title game before coming up short.

”We will do our best to represent our state very well,” Galusky promised.

”These kids are a special group. They practice hard and play hard every day. We kind of lived by an old Vince Lombardi quote that says those who invest the most will be the last to surrender. These kids have invested their life to this program. This is just a great reward for them.”

Post 1 Comes up Short in Legion Tourney

Following the final out of Morgantown Post 2’s thrilling 6-5 victory against Wheeling Post 1 in the West Virginia American Legion state championship game on Sunday afternoon, a reporter suggested to winning coach Ernie Galusky that both teams had put up a heck of good fight.

”Heck is not a strong enough word for it,” Galusky replied. ”It was a hell of a fight. Gosh, Wheeling is such a good team and for us to beat them in back-to-back days is a tremendous accomplishment for our guys,”

Morgantown, the defending state champion but probably the second best team in the tournament behind South Charleston according to many observers, rallied from a 5-1 deficit after six innings to deny an equally determined Wheeling club its first West Virginia crown in 20 years.

The boys from Post 2 scored four times with outs in the bottom of the seventh to knot the score and then got the winning run an inning later on back-to-back doubles from Victor Sivanuri and Ben Miller.

”People this week have been making a big deal about South Charleston having 18 first-team all-staters on their roster and we have zero,” Galusky stressed. ”We play together as a team and we believe in each other. I told the kids in the hotel last night that we had to put the gloves on and when the bell rings, start punching and see who is standing at the end. We might have won but we certainly didn’t knock Wheeling out. They were right with us until the final out.”

While there was celebration in the Morgantown dugout, the gritty kids wearing Post 1 uniforms had to overcome their great disappointment.

”We’re kind of devastated,” Post 1 Coach Tom Pasco said after spending several minutes consoling his players. ”We fought our buns off and we had the defending champions on the run. It’s tough to accept right now but Morgantown has a great team that is well managed. Those kids know how to win and our guys are learning how to win. The effort our guys gave coming out of the loser’s bracket without ever giving up or blowing up was awesome. We fought and that is all you can ask. We showed up every day all week and competed. I couldn’t be prouder of a bunch of guys than I am right now.”

The second-year Wheeling coach also gave out much praise when discussing the gutty pitching performance Post 1 received from Donnie Platt. The former Wheeling Park High School stalwart took a big heart and a weary arm to the mound Sunday after having tossed a complete game victory in the tournament opener Thursday and pitching three-innings of relief Saturday when Wheeling rallied for a 12-11 victory against South Charleston in an elimination game.

”If you asked if I thought Donnie could have taken it as far as he did, I would have said ‘no way.’ The effort he put forth for the team was fantastic. I don’t have enough words for it,” Pasco said.

Platt, coming off a solid season pitching for the University of Charleston last spring, kept Morgantown off the scoreboard until the bottom of the fifth inning. That’s when Post 2 leadoff hitter got into a Platt fast ball and yanked the ball over the fence in right field for his second home run in as many games against Wheeling.

The ball, aided by a strong wind blowing across from center field to right, apparently fooled Post 1’s Dillon Mangino as he took a couple of steps in before turning around and racing back toward the fence to no avail.

The Wheeling offense rebounded in the top of the sixth for a couple of runs to put Platt on top 5-1. Christian Lewton opened the rally by dropping a popper over second base for a single. Clark Sambucco, a defensive star in center field throughout the tournament for Wheeling, followed Platt to the plate and drilled a double down the right-field line, sending Lewton to third. It was Sambucco’s third hit of the day.

The squeeze bunt, which proved to be an effective weapon for Wheeling throughout the tournament, came into play again. With Lewton breaking from third, Chris Kiedaisch dropped the ball down in front of the plate and ended up getting credit for an RBI base hit as the Morgantown infielders failed to cover first base. Lewton’s run pushed the lead to 4-1 and Platt flied out along the right-field line, bringing home Sambucco with the fifth run.

Wheeling had taken a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Mangino singled and advanced to second via a wild pitch. Lewton walked before Mangino took third on Sambucco’s fly out to right field. Pasco then called for the suicide squeeze. Although Andrew Kozusko missed the bunt attempt, Morgantown’s catcher let the ball get be him, allowing the run to score.

Post 1 loaded the bases as Kozusko ended up being hit by a pitch and Kiedaisch walked. With two outs, Hammel lined a two-run double along the left-field line, plating Lewton and Kozusko.

At this point, Parsons was replaced on the mound by Eric Wyant, grandson of former West Virginia great Fred Wyant.

The second Morgantown hurler retired the side without further damage and lasted until Wheeling’s three-run rally in the seventh. Sivanuri replaced Wyant during the inning and eventually got credit for the victory in relief.

Just when it looked like Platt might have enough to get through the seventh, the Morgantown bats exploded. Sivanuri singled with one out and Scott Dicken added a base hit after the second out was recorded, bringing up Bryant Woods.

The Post 2 center fielder slashed a double down the left-field line, making it a 5-2 game. Tyler Barnette then found the right center gap for another two-base hit, scoring both Dicken and Woods.

This also meant the end of the day for Platt, who got a warm reception when he reached the dugout from his teammates and coaches. Hammel, who went the distance in a victory on Friday, moved from second base to the pitcher’s mound but allowed the tying run to score as Barnette stole third base and crossed the plate on a wild pitch.

With one out in the eighth, Morgantown scored what proved to be the winning tally after Sivaneri doubled down the left-field line and Miller shot one to right that nearly went out but landed at the base of the fence for his RBI double.

With one turn at bat left, Wheeling refused to go down quietly against Post 2 reliever Michael Martin, who had picked up a save during Saturday morning’s victory against Post 1.

After Hammel had fanned to start the ninth, Ryan Sengewalt drew a walk after a great at-bat. Heath Beecher went the opposite way against the left-handed sidewinder and punched the ball into right for a single. Dillon Mangino, who had singled twice earlier, took a called strike three on an extremely close pitch, leaving the game in the hands of Lewton. The Park High senior-to-be swung hard but just got under the ball, popping it up along first base where Miller squeezed it for the final out.

While Wheeling finishes the season with a 27-14 record, Morgantown (28-12) now advances to the regional tournament taking place next week at Colonial Heights, Va. Last season, Post 2 made it all the way to the regional title game before coming up short.

”We will do our best to represent our state very well,” Galusky promised.

”These kids are a special group. They practice hard and play hard every day. We kind of lived by an old Vince Lombardi quote that says those who invest the most will be the last to surrender. These kids have invested their life to this program. This is just a great reward for them.”

West Virginia American Legion

Baseball Tournament

(Championship Game)

Morgantown 6, Wheeling 5

Wheeling030 002 000 – 5 10 1

Morgntown000 010 41x – 6 13 0

W – Platt (4SO, 1W), Hammel lp (7) (0SO, 2W) and Kozusko. Hammel D, 2rbi; Mangino 2s; Sambuco 2S, D; Kiedaisch 2S, rbi; Platt SF.

M – Parsons (1SO, 2W), Wyant (2) (0SO, 2W); Sivaneri wp (6) (0SO, 0W); Martin save (9) (2SO, 1W) and Barnette. B. Miller HR, D, 2RBI; Dicken D, S; Woods S, D, 2RBI; Watts 2S; Sivanuri S, D.