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Wildthings Unfazed By Turnaround

Photo by Cody Nespor Wheeling Wildthings pitcher Luca DiLorenzo delivers to the plate during Friday’s Beast of the East game.

WHEELING — The Wheeling Wildthings had just enough time to go home, take a shower and get some sleep before they were back in action in the 34th Edgar Martin Beast of the East Classic at Patterson Field Friday morning.

The Wildthings wrapped up their game at I-470 against Wheeling Post 1 right around 8 p.m. Thursday before turning around to face off against Moundsville Post 3 at 8 a.m. Friday.

“They hate it,” Wildthings coach Mike Bittinger said of his players. “They’re not an early morning team. A lot of them got up this morning and got here, but it was a struggle to get them here.”

Any grogginess aside, the Wildthings bounced back from their loss to Post 1 to pocket a 6-2 win over Post 3.

Jacob Harr led off the game for Post 3 with an infield single and that was the team’s only base hit through the first six innings.

“It was a nice win this morning, we played well,” Bittinger said. “Our pitching kept us in the game and our bats are finally coming alive. It’s been a struggle to get timely hits and that’s what everybody needs in a big tournament like this.”

Luca DiLorenzo, a soon-to-be senior at Linsly, started on the mound for the Wildthings. The lefty allowed just one baserunner through three innings while striking out three.

Post 3 countered with Ricky Booth, a rising sophomore at John Marshall. The Wildthings took advantage of an error to score two unearned runs off of Booth in the bottom of the first inning.

After the first inning, however, Booth more than held his own against the Wildthings’ lineup full of varsity thumpers. The youngster allowed just one hit across the next three frames.

“He pitched a good game,” Post 3 coach Tim Koontz said. “He’s only a freshman and he did well.”

With their offense stagnating, the Wildthings shifted to some small ball to provide a spark. Will James and DiLorenzo, the number eight and nine hitters, led off the bottom of the fifth with back-to-back bunt singles to set up the top of the order.

“The bottom of our lineup’s pretty quick,” Bittinger said. “They have the green light to do whatever they want to do, whether they want to swing or just put it in play.

“They took the opportunity to put it down on the grass and it makes the defense work harder. It speeds the game up and sometimes teams can’t deal with that.”

Wheeling Park grad Michael Bittinger came through with a sacrifice fly to score James and Gian Degenova drove DiLorenzo in two batters later with a single up the middle to extend the lead to 4-0.

“The bottom two guys are pretty quick and then it rolls the lineup over to our top guys, who are usually our run producers,” coach Bittinger said.

The Wildthings scored two more runs in the bottom of the sixth with Michael Bittinger supplying an RBI double.

Cade Costanza relieved DiLorenzo and pitched the final four innings for the Wildthings. Post 3 was still stuck at just one hit entering the top of the seventh.

Grant Neiswonger reached on an error and then Luke Cramer followed with a home run to left field to get Moundsville on the board. Chad Frazier laced a single later in the inning and Post 3 finished with three hits in the 6-2 loss.

Booth pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing six runs with one strikeout. Only three of the runs were earned. Costanza pitched four full innings for the Wildthings, striking out three and allowing the two-run homer to Cramer.

Michael Bittinger had two singles, a double and two RBI for Wheeling. Degenova and Adam Och both finished with a single and an RBI.

The Wildthings will play two more early-morning games today against the Silverstars and Bruisers Baseball at 8 and 10:30 a.m. back at Patterson Field.

Post 3 will wrap up pool play with games against the TCT Kings and Ontario Giants at Patterson today at 3:30 and 6 p.m.


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