Post 1 Hosts Begins With a Trip, Trip Tripleheader
WHEELING – Mark Delbrugge considers it a left-handed compliment.
And the Wheeling American Legion Post 1 coach is perfectly happy with it.
“They say when you have one left-handed pitcher you are lucky, when you have two you are blessed,” Delbrugge said.
The compliment? Delbrugge has five left-handed hurlers on his pitching staff.
“It is certainly a unique situation,” Delbrugge said. “I’ve never been around anything like it before.”
Additionally, three of the lefties have college experience under their belts, West Liberty freshmen Nick Naumann (Wheeling Central) and Trevor Stewart (Wheeling Park) and Vincent College freshman Mo Felt (Linsly).
Justice Jackson, who helped lead Wheeling Park to its first state tournament berth since 1989, and Mario Peroni, of Wheeling Central, are also in the stable of southpaws.
“The guys with college experience are a great addition to our squad, with the experience they have,” Delbrugge said. “That is five quality left-handed pitchers we have on our staff.
The Post 1 team will kick off its home season with a triple-header against Morgantown, with the varsity team finishing off the afternoon with a 3 p.m. game at the 1-470 J.B. Chambers Complex.
Not only does the team have five capable lefties, it also has four reghthanders, including Linsly’s Jameson Murray, Wheeling Park’s Matthew Brooks, Wheeling Central’s Nate Bakaitis and Potomac State hurler (Wheeling Park) freshman Andrew Kowalo.
“If you look at it, we have nine guys we can go to throughout the year,” Delbrugge said. “And the beauty of it is, some of those guys are pitchers only, which means they can pitch and then work on their four-day program until they throw again. It really is a win-win situation for us.”
Murray will also start and third, Kowalo will be at shortstop, Bakaitis at second base and Stewart and Peroni splitting time at first base.
Jackson will be at one of the corner outfield spots with Joey Minor (Wheeling Central) and the other. Brooke’s Russell Schwertfeger will be in center field.
Brooke’s Chad Harper will be behind the plate with Eric Crow of Wheeling Park also seeing time.
“This is a very exciting time,” Delbrugge said. “Especially at the 19-under level. I think our talent is as good as we have had in the recent past. If you combine the four college-level experience guys we have with seven graduating seniors and four underclassmen. It is a great group of kids.”
The excitement will spill over into today’s tripleheader, according to Post 1s Doug Costain.
For starters, all three teams – the first time Post 1 will boast that many squads – with the under-15 team (the first in the organization’s history) in action at 10 a.m., the junior varsity team at 12:30 p.m. followed by the varsity team – in organization history.
There will be several promotions, including Ohio County Commission President Tim McCormick, representing the county, which donated to the Field Five press box project, throwing out the first pitch before the 15-under game, and all three games will be broadcast live on WKKX 1600 AM. The team will also be wearing its new uniforms and the color guard will be on hand.
“We are really trying to make this special,” Costan said. “We have the two younger squads playing, one for the first time. We’ll have barbeques and a lot of activities going on throughout the day.”
“In essence, we are making a little history here,” Delbrugge added. “For the first time we will have two junior teams. We want to make it a special day, not only for the players and they parents, but the community as a whole. It’s going to be a great day.
Post 1 has 28 regular season games and will also be playing in three tournaments, including the Hillbilly Hardball Tournament, giving it a total of over 40 games.