Post 1 Off To A Perfect Start

WHEELING – Like most people this time of year, Wheeling Post 1’s Mario Peroni wanted to get to the beach.

The only thing that stood in the pitcher’s way was Williamsport Wildpitch, Wheeling’s first opponent in the 26th annual Edgar Martin Beast of the East tournament.

The Wildpitch never had a chance.

Peroni tossed a three-hit shutout as Post 1 rolled to an 8-0 victory. Wheeling moved to 2-0 later in the tournament with an 11-8 victory against Pickerington, in a game that featured a combined 31 hits.

”I wanted to pitch my best so I could have a good drive down and be real happy on the way,” said Peroni, who was headed for Carolina Beach as soon as the game ended.

”All my pitches were working out there. I was really confident in every single pitch I threw. It helps a lot having (catcher) Chad (Harper) back there helping me call the game and locate my pitches.”

While Peroni will miss the rest of the tournament, Post 1 manager Mark Delbrugge was more than pleased with the West Liberty signee’s outing.

”Any time you get a pitching performance like that in the first game of the Beast of the East, that’s a big plus,” Delbrugge said. ”It saves our bullpen, it saves our arms. It gives us a heck of a lot of confidence going into the rest of the tournament.”

Indeed.

Two early errors put Williamsport in a hole and it never recovered.

After Russell Schwertfeger was walked to start the game, the Brooke graduate looked to steal second on a 3-1 pitch to Andrew Kowalo. Wildpitch catcher Rylan Whitmyer’s pickoff attempt was off, which allowed Schwertfeger to score and left Kowalo save at second.

”When Russ gets on base good things happen,” Delbrugge said. ”If there’s a better leadoff hitter in the state than Russ Schwertfeger, I’d like to see it. When he gets on base, the whole game changes. He’s a tremendous player.”

Justice Jackson drove his former Wheeling Park teammate in with a hit into shallow left and Harper plated Jackson with a sacrifice fly to center to give Post 1 (14-6) a 3-0 lead.

”Justice has been killing the ball for us,” Delbrugge said. ”He’s such a great player. He’s a big plus for us. Hitting from the left side, especially, it gives us that left-handed pop. Russ (batting) one and him at four, that’s a big plus.”

Jackson reached in three of his four plate appearances with a single, double and a walk to go with an RBI and two runs scored.

Joey Minor, who finished with two hits and scored two runs, drove in Jameson Murray in the fourth before Nate Hardman scored on a fielder’s choice. Minor then scored on a sacrifice by Kowalo as Post 1 took a 6-0 lead.

Jackson scored on a groundout in the fifth and Nate Bakaitis plated Minor in the sixth for the final run.

”Recently we’ve been falling behind early in games,” Delbrugge said. ”We picked up three runs in the first and never looked back.”

Schwertfeger led the way in Game 2, collecting four hits – two triples – and driving in three runs. Kowalo, Harper, Jackson, Minor and Eric Crow had two singles apiece.