Home is Where the Victories Are

WHEELING – Ricky Szeligo wasn’t real pleased with his team’s play away from home.

”We lost a few games last week,” the Wheeling Post 1 coach said. ”We played poor baseball. Hopefully, this is a fresh week and a new start for us.”

As it turns out, it was.

Wheeling (12-6) exploded for 13 hits as it returned home from a long road trip, and earned an 8-6 victory against St. Clairsville in a scheduled nine-inning game Monday at the I-470 baseball field.

”A lot better game,” Szeligo noted. ”Offensively, we hit the ball well. We put the ball in play with authority. From an offensive standpoint, we had a good game.”

Looking at it that way, so did St. Clairsville.

Post 159 (8-6) mustered 11 hits, highlighted by a sixth inning in which three of St. C’s four hits were extra base knocks.

”It seems like the ball carries up here pretty well,” Post 159 coach Mike Jacob said. ”There were some balls that were poked here. Our hitting is coming along, but, as you can see with Wheeling, they’re well-coached and they got some kids that come from some pretty good programs, so you know that they’re not going to get cheated on their swings. They hit the ball well and they hit the ball hard.”

It’s true.

After St. C’s huge sixth inning where it sent its entire lineup to the plate and took a 5-4 lead, Post 1 came alive as Russell Schwertfeger hit a one-out triple into right field and tied the game when Andrew Kowalo tripled into center field.

Post 159 retook the lead in the eighth when Bailey McGrath hit one into shallow right field to give Logan Nipert time to score and it was 6-5.

McGrath gave back the run in the bottom half of the inning as he walked Trevor Stewart with the bases loaded.

Jesse Heartly then hit into what looked to be an inning-ending double play, but after McGrath got the throw off to second, the throw to first was too high and by the time it was all said and done, Justice Jackson and Kowalo had crossed home to make it an 8-6 ball game.

”Our players actually played a good game,” Szeligo said. ”All aspects of the game. Fielding, pitching, hitting … we’re very pleased with their performance.”

For St. C, Jacob knew there would be a tough challenge waiting for his team on the other side of the river.

”We knew coming over here, playing this Wheeling legion team, they played a lot of baseball the last couple of weeks, and it was a good test for us,” he said. ”I thought we played pretty well, but they made some plays defensively.

”This was a great baseball game. That was probably one of the best crowds I’ve seen at any of our games. They get great support, they have a great place to play, but, unfortunately, we were on the short end.”