ST. MARYS - St. Marys Post 79 ran into a buzzsaw that practically left head coach Wirt Cook muttering to himself.
In a single, seven-inning game Thursday night at Dave Wilson Field, Wheeling Post 1 received a second straight complete game effort from its starting pitcher as left-hander Mo Felt struck out 10 in a 5-0 victory.
St. Marys matched Wheeling with seven hits apiece, but failed to deliver the clutch hit - especially in the late innings when Post 79 loaded the bases in the sixth inning and left runners stranded on first and second base in the seventh inning.
Photo by Kerry Patrick
St. Marys Post 79 batter Hayden Hizer leans away from an inside pitch during Thursday's 5-0 loss to Wheeling Post 1 at Dave Wilson Field.
Since appearing in the Hillbilly Classic in Elkins, Wheeling has won eight consecutive games and improved to 11-4.
"The guys are coming together," Wheeling Post 1 head coach Mark DelBrugge said.
St. Marys lost for the first time in three games and slipped to 3-2. Post 79 will need to gets things clicking soon with a doubleheader scheduled at Mason County Post 23 on Saturday followed by single games against Buckhannon Post 7 and St. Clairsville Post 159 Sunday at home.
"We didn't do the little stuff right," Cook said. "These kids have to realize this is not high school anymore. We're going to see good teams. We're going to see good pitchers.
"Felt threw a good game. You have to give credit to him because he kept us off-balanced, but we have to be more disciplined hitters."
At the outset, it appeared as if St. Marys would receive a stellar outing from starting pitcher Robbie Harper. The right-hander retired the first seven batters he faced then all of a sudden, the wheels came off with one out in the top of the third inning as he hit a batter then walked two in a row.
With two outs and bases loaded, Andrew Kowalo delivered a two-run single for a Wheeling 2-0 lead.
More trouble was brewing for Harper in the fifth, but not totally by his own doing. Nate Bakaitis led off the inning by reaching on an infield error. Kowalo stepped to the plate and on a hit and run, St. Marys tried turning a 6-4-3 double play. Unfortunately, both runners were safe.
RBI singles from Justice Jackson and Chad Harper increased the advantage to 4-0 and Harper was done for the night. Wheeling capped off the scoring later that inning as Jameson Murray singled home a run off St. Marys reliever Tyler Davis.
Offensively, Felt kept St. Marys off stride and did not allow a runner to reach third base until two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Felt, who will be entering his sophomore year at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., ended the Post 79 bases-loaded threat with a strike out.
"Mo was in command the whole day," DelBrugge said. "At the end they got to him a little bit, but he still stayed in command and never panicked. His curve ball was incredibly effective. He's stepped up to be probably be our No. 1 right now."
Both Dylan Frye and Johnny Riggs delivered two hits for St. Marys.