PARKERSBURG - Top-seeded Parkersburg Post 15 is anxious to get the American Legion Area 3 tournament under way and the double elimination event begins at 6 p.m. today inside City Park against fourth-seeded St. Marys Post 79, which is 0-5 versus Jim Goodwin's club this summer.
"We played them five times and there were two games I thought we definitely could've won and another one we had a bad inning and gave it away," said Post 79 skipper Wirt Cook, whose club ended the season by winning 12 of its final 20 following a rough 2-19 beginning.
"We've been playing a lot better defense and we still got a few mental mistakes we've got to cut out and things we should know by game 42."
Post 15 enters the tournament with a 33-8 mark. Goodwin said that represents the most wins in the 90-year history of Post 15.
"We're 10-2 in Area 3 play with the No. 1 seed and we just didn't play eight or 10 guys, we played all 18," said Goodwin, whose club will go with either Jonathon Murphy or Cody Starcher on the hill versus Post 79 left-handed expected starter D.J. Burgess (2-1, 3.90 ERA).
"Our brothers from the north are coming down and we wish them well. We just need to do our best to beat them."
Thus far, that's exactly what Post 15 has done each time the teams have met. However, everyone is now 0-0 in the postseason and anything can happen.
Three-time defending state champion South Charleston Post 94 is the No. 2 seed in the tournament and will take on Beckley Post 32 this evening in Sissonville. The winners and losers of today's games then will play on Thursday with the highest seeded team acting as the host site.
"We feel like these wins don't matter unless we win a state championship," added Goodwin, whose team last made the state tournament in 2010.
The probable starting lineup for Post 15 has center fielder Josh Wine (.409 AVG, 21 SBs) setting the table. He should be followed by Case Edgar (.409 AVG), left fielder Jacob Wilcox (.415 AVG, team-high 33 RBIs) and cleanup hitter/first baseman Brett Burns (.363 AVG, 11 2Bs, 31 RBIs). Eli Gray (.339 AVG) should man third and bat fifth.
Gray should be followed by either Kyle Haverty (.298 AVG) or Damon Ribeiro (.281 AVG) at designated hitter with the bottom third of the lineup likely consisting of catcher Jordan Braniff (.429 AVG, 14 RBIs), Clay Walters (.383 AVG, 20 RBIs) and right fielder Braxton Johnson (.375 AVG, 13 RBIs, 10 SBs). Walters and Edgar will play up the middle, but whether they are at shortstop or second base will be a game time decision.
Goodwin, who is being helped this year by Steve and Kyle Fleak along with Brad Gossett, said of his coaching staff, "the kids like them and they've done a good job for us. The Post really appreciates it."
Of course, St. Marys isn't going to show up and just roll over this evening at Bennett Stump Field either.
"Obviously, Post 15 ran away with the Area 3 regular season title, but I think they are beatable," stated Cook, whose lineup should feature center fielder Mitch Davis (.400 AVG, 13 SBs) at the top of the order followed by Burgess, right fielder Jarrod Lough (.365 AVG, 4 HRs, 21 RBIs) and shortstop Tony Brunicardi (.432 AVG, 10 2Bs, 16 RBIs, 11 SBs).
Catcher Zack Romine (.284 AVG, 4 HRs, 16 RBIs .435 OBA) should hit fifth and be followed by first baseman Ryder Bolin (.280 AVG, team-high 30 RBIs), left fielder Colby Vanoy (.257 AVG, 10 RBIs, 10 SBs), second baseman Robbie Harper (.264 AVG) and third baseman Aaron Tice (.373 OBA).
"We're not going to play them 1-0," Cook added. "That's just not going to happen. They are going to hit the ball and we are going to have to outscore them."
There is no admission charge to the Area 3 tournament games.
"We are playing for the city," said Kyle Fleak. "We would like as many people to show up as possible."