MOUNDSVILLE -It’s been an interesting week for the St. Marys legion baseball squad, to say the least.
On the first day of the Area 1 Tournament, Post 79 was hammered 14-0 by Moundsville in a game where the team finished with only three hits, all singles.
Then, when the group returned to St. Marys, their coach, Wirt Cook, collapsed in his living room and was taken to the hospital.
Since Cook, who is now in stable condition and is patiently waiting for a release from the hospital, was the team’s only coach, manager Steve Tice had to step up and take the reins, sorta.
”I don’t normally coach,” Tice said, ”so I’m just out there at third base kinda just standing there clapping, saying ‘come on, let’s go.’ ”
Tice’s ”cheerleader” approach seems to have worked.
Since he’s been stocking the hot corner, Post 79 (24-16) rallied from a 7-2 deficit to eliminate Weirton, 12-8, on Tuesday and followed that performance with a 17-0 thrashing of Moundsville to knock Post 3 out of the tournament.
All this despite that fact the team doesn’t even have a first base coach.
”We only have 10 boys,” Tice said. ”I DH-ed one of them, so I didn’t even have a sub. I was hoping we’d jump out early and be able to hang in there and that’s what we did.”
Post 79 nearly went through its entire lineup in the first as it jumped out to a 3-0 lead on a Ryder Bolin two-run double.
Jarrod Lough made it 6-0 on his second home run of the day in the fourth, while two at-bats later, Zach Romine blasted the team’s ninth homer of the past two days over the left-field fence.
Tony Brunicardi’s and Tyler Davis’ two-run doubles in the sixth highlighted an inning where St. Marys sent 12 batters to the plate as it scored eight runs on seven hits to force the mercy rule upon Moundsville.
”On Tuesday, we only had three hits against (Moundsville),” Tice said. ”We just weren’t here. We’re a hitting team, we have been, but we’ve had games this year where we’ll win two or three then (the team) will kinda get flat and they just won’t hit. We’re a hitting team and we’re showing it now.”
In its past two games, Post 79 has 35 hits, 18 of them being for extra bases, and have scored 29 runs.
”They’re wanting to go to Morgantown really bad,” Tice noted. ”I think that’s motivated them a good bit. The fact that we’ve had a really great season this year,” – it’s Post 79’s first winning season in four years – ”they just really want to top the season off. That’s motivated them quite a bit.
”With Wirt being in the hospital, I’m glad we’re able to get some wins here. Hopefully he’ll be back (today) if he can get out. As soon as they let him out the door I’m sure he’ll be headed this way.”
Post 79 might need the extra help as it heads into an afternoon matchup with Wheeling Post 1, a club who stands 2-0 in the tournament and is coming off a season high 20 hits in a 11-3 victory against Moundsville.
”We’ll see what we can do with Wheeling. They’ve had a days rest. We’ll see what we can do. I (told the team) if we can hold them to six or seven runs, we have a chance. That’s what we’re trying to do.”