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St. C. Legion Set for Some Beach Baseball

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — When a teenage boy commits to play American Legion baseball, he is, essentially, giving up his summer of family vacations, hitting the swimming pool or going to the beach. Members of the St. Clairsville Post 159 squad will be doing all of those for the next week.

In his fourth year at the helm of the premier legion team in Belmont County, Mike Muklewicz realizes the sacrifices players have to make.

“These kids have dedicated their entire summer to playing baseball, so we decided to reward them with a trip away from the Ohio Valley,” Muklewicz said. “I think it’s going to be a really cool experience for the kids.”

Members of the team and their families departed for Myrtle Beach, S.C., Tuesday — some by plane and others by vehicles — where Post 159 (2-2) will compete in the Palmetto Legion Invitational Tournament from Friday through Sunday. There are eight teams involved in the Coastal Bracket.

St. Clairsville is entered in Pool B along with host Murrells Inlet, S.C., Frederick, Md., and Excelsior, Mn. It opens play on Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Murrells Inlet and has two games on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. (Frederick, Md.) and 3 p.m. (Excelsior, Mn.). Depending on the outcomes, Post 159 could play Sunday. Friday’s and Saturday’s games will be played at Socastee High School.

Pool A includes host Waccamaw, S.C., Ottawa, Ohio, Jacksonville, N.C., and Moorefield, W.Va. Those contests will be played at Waccamaw High School in Pawleys Island.

“This is our first venture out of the area for a tournament,” Muklewicz said. “We’ve played in Cambridge, Coshocton and Marietta, but we wanted to get away and play some different competition.”

According to the former Bridgeport High and Bethany College product, Excelsior, Mn., is a national power.

“They are very, very good. They are a very high-caliber program,” he said. “They are coming here to play and then flying out to play somewhere else.”

Muklewicz has workouts scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

“Friday we will practice at Carolina Forest High School where (former Bridgeport baseball coach) Tom Pasco coaches,” Muklewicz noted. “It was nice to hookup with him because he coached me in high school.”

Pasco is a Wheeling Park grad who re-located to the south several years ago.

Of course, there will also be time for some fun and relaxation before returning to the Ohio Valley on Tuesday, June 25.

“After we’re done playing we’ve got some things lined up,” Muklewicz said. “One of those things is going to see the Myrtle Beach Pelicans who are the Class A Advanced farm team of the Chicago Cubs.”

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