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Post 1 Prepared For State Tourney

Event to be held in Wheeling for first time since 2012

Photo by Cody Tomer Pitcher Dylan Gongola and the Wheeling Post 1 team are ready to begin this year’s state legion tournament in Wheeling on Wednesday.

By CODY NESPOR

Sports Writer

WHEELING — This week, Wheeling will host the West Virginia State Legion Baseball Tournament for the first time since 2012. The entire six-team, double-elimination tournament will be played at the JB Chamber I-470 baseball field beginning on Wednesday at 10 a.m. and concluding with the championship game on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Led by coach Jon-Michael Brunner, local team Wheeling Post 1 will play against South Charleston in the third game Wednesday at 6 p.m. Despite not playing South Charleston this summer, Brunner said he knows they will have a tough team.

“I know they’ll be good, they’re always good,” Brunner said. “They’re well coached, they get good high school draws and they usually have three or four college kids come back and play. We expect them to be just as good as anybody we’ve played.”

This summer’s legion schedule was a little shorter than usual due to the high school season running long.

“Our schedule this year was a little bit backwards,” Brunner said. “With the high school schedule pushing back as far as it did, we really didn’t know what we were getting into so we tried to load our schedule up for five weeks. Basically we’ve been preparing for the state tournament since game one.”

The other matchups Wednesday will be Riverside and Bridgeport at 10 a.m. then Parkersburg and Elkins at 2 p.m. Post 1 catcher Zac Taylor, from Linsly, said preparing for a tournament like this can be challenging, especially when facing unfamiliar teams.

“A lot of the kids from our area we know but when we get down into southern and eastern West Virginia, we don’t know what they have,” Taylor said. “When they’re coming from those huge schools, we don’t know everything they’re going to throw at us. (You prepare) with as many reps as possible. You get the confidence up as high as you can going into the games and believe you can beat anybody.”

Brunner said Post 1 has thrived off of leadership from the older players this summer like Taylor, Wheeling Park’s Dylan Gongola and Wheeling Central’s Michael Toepfer.

“If they’re up, the team’s up, if they’re down then the team kind of feels that,” Brunner said. “So we’re really relying on the senior leadership by those guys (today) and throughout the tournament.

“We’ve got some younger guys stepping up and trying to do things they’re not really asked to in high school. That’s the beauty of summer ball, you’re put in situations that you normally wouldn’t.”

Toepfer said having the state tournament in Wheeling this year makes it even more exciting for the Post 1 players and adds a bit more pressure for the team to have a good showing.

“I think it’s really exciting. Our fans, and especially our families, can make the trip easy,” Toepfer said. “There’s probably a little bit of pressure because people think we’ve got to win since we host it, but I think it’ll be a really good opportunity for us.”

“We definitely feel obligated to win a bit,” Gongola added. “It’s just nice to play up here rather than down south.”

Action at the JB Chambers I-470 Complex will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday. First pitch between Wheeling Post 1 and South Charleston is scheduled for 6 p.m. With a win against South Charleston, Wheeling Post 1 would play the winner of Parkersburg and Elkins on Thursday at 6 p.m. With a loss, Post 1 would play the winner of Riverside and Bridgeport at 10 a.m. Thursday morning.

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