Wheeling Edges Jefferson County
Auten throws a gem; Murray drives in game-winner for Post 1
WEST LIBERTY — It wasn’t the most memorable day at the plate for Wheeling Wednesday night against Jefferson County Teramana. However, the defense and pitching were on point for Post 1. Jake Auten fired a complete game tallying five strikeouts as Wheeling defeated Post 33, 1-0 at Kovalick Field on the campus of West Liberty University.
Auten kept Jefferson County Teramana off balance all evening giving up two hits.
“Aut’s a tough guy,” Wheeling manager Jon-Michael Brunner said. “Coming off in the sixth, we asked if he was OK, and he said, ‘Absolutely.’ A guy like that, having that emotion on the mound, in a close game like this, you can’t do anything but put him back out there. Offensively, if we didn’t have those two early hits, we didn’t generate many runs. Auten did an unbelievable job for us. He was an absolute bulldog.”
Although its’ bats struggled for the majority of the night, Post 1 came out swinging in the bottom of the first. Ross Salvatori belted a lead-off double. Butter Murray then brought him home with a double of his own to plate the only run of the contest as the score read, 1-0.
Murray and Salvatori accounted for four of Wheeling’s five hits. Salvatori secured two doubles while Murray also compiled a single to go along with his RBI double.
Ben Taylor tallied the other hit for Post 1 with a single in the sixth.
“Those guys have been hitting it all year,” Brunner said. “Move guys a little bit in the lineup, trying to get some better pitches to hit and those guys squared it up, fortunately for us early on. We hit the ball OK; I think five hits is a little uncharacteristic for those guys. We’re usually double-digit hits. A win is a win. The kids played hard. There was excellent defense and excellent pitching. They just kept grinding and didn’t give up.
There was a little bit of adversity in the last inning, but we had really good defense and that was the difference.”
Jefferson County had the opportunity to tie the game in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Alec Taylor, who got on base on a walk, took off for second. The throw for the tag was off target and Taylor made it to third safely.
However, the hope of getting the tying run in was short-lived as Auten fired his fifth strike out of the game to end the game.
“We’ve had problems scoring all year,” Post 33 manager Anthony Pierro said. “It was a good game. We had guys on second and third three or four times throughout the game. We just couldn’t get that big hit to bump us over the edge. We start our district tournament Friday, so hopefully we can get some things coming along here.”
Connor Hyndman and Nicky Zorne supplied the two hits for Jefferson County as both secured singles.
The pitching was solid as well as three pitchers combined for five strikeouts and two walks.
Anthony Kinney, who started the game, fired two strikeouts, while Tristen Haught tallied three. Matt Bell, although giving up two, walks, was solid as he faced seven batters in his two innings on the mound.
“Our pitching has been doing well all year,” Pierro said. “Our problem all year is we can’t score. We just have to hope our pitching holds up and we can find a way to score three or four runs to win games.
“I think we can do it, we just have to find it deep down in us to get those big hits in these games.”