Harper leads Post 79 past Post 15, 6-3

ST. MARYS – Parkersburg Post 15 scored early and late, but not enough as St. Marys Post 79 came away with a 6-3 rain-shortened victory Saturday at Dave Wilson Field.

With the win, Post 79 heads into tournament play with a 22-16 mark and the top seed in the Area 1 tournament.

“I wouldn’t say surprised,” St. Marys skipper Wirt Cook said prior to Saturday’s regular-season ending doubleheader. “Earlier in the season we’d play well in the first game of a doubleheader and then kind of didn’t show up for the second game.

“Here lately, the kids have been doing a better job of playing hard in both games.”

Post 15, now 22-12, also will head into postseason play this week and will face Beckley Post 32 in Area 3 play.

It did not take long for Parkersburg, which had dropped two of three earlier meetings with Post 79, to get to St. Marys’ starting pitcher Robbie Harper as Austin Cottrell laced a solid single down the left field line with one out.

The Post 15 right fielder advanced to second on the first of two wild pitches by Harper and scored the game’s first run when Ravenswood’s Devon Crews laced a double to the warning track in left.

Crews, who went 2-for-3, moved up to third on a wild pitch two batters later and scored the game’s second run on a two-out single by Paul Fichtelman, which also brought in Jonathan Murphy, who had walked. Harper got out of the inning by striking out Post 15’s Jacob Wilcox.

The three runs, however, would not be enough for Parkersburg.

Leadoff batter Mitch Davis opened the home half of the first with a walk, advanced to second on the first of two stolen bases by the hosts in the frame and eventually came home on an error by Post 15’s third baseman on a hard hit ball by teammate D.J. Burgess.

Also scoring on the play was left fielder Dylan Frye, who had reached on a single and stole second. Burgess then knotted the game at three when he took advantage of a pair of fielding miscues by the visitors on a single by Tony Brunicardi.

Both Harper, who picked up the mound win, and Post 15’s Jacob Braniff settled down and kept the offenses off of the board over the next two frames before Post 79 took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth.

First baseman Matthew Houser led off with a double to the base of the fence in right field and scored the go-ahead run on a one-out double by Ryder Bolin.

The Post 79 right fielder advanced to third on a wild pitch and came home with the second run of the inning on an RBI groundout by Davis.

St. Marys closed out the scoring when Aaron Tice, who walked, came home on an RBI single by Frye. Those would prove to be more than enough runs for Harper, who retired nine of the next 11 batters he faced before giving away to Davis to begin the sixth.

Post 15 would touch up Davis for a pair of runs in the top half of the sixth to pull to within one run, 6-5.

But, those runs would be erased when hard rains forced the game to be called in the bottom half of the frame.