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W.VA. AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL — STATE TOURNAMENT: Parkersburg Post 15 opens with Elkins Post 29

Parkersburg Post 15’s Izek Baldwin takes a pitch during a regular-season game against Marietta Post 64. Parkersburg won the Area 1 American Legion crown and opens state tournament play at 2 p.m. Wednesday versus Elkins Post 29 in Wheeling.

PARKERSBURG — The West Virginia American Legion state baseball tournament will get underway on Wednesday morning at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Complex in Wheeling.

The six-team tournament is slated to conclude Saturday and the opening game at 10 a.m. Wednesday pits Riverside Post 95 against Bridgeport Post 68.

Manager Mike Goodwin’s Post 15 squad, which sports an 18-7 record, will take on Elkins Post 29 at 2 p.m. The 6 p.m. game features host Wheeling Post 1 and South Charleston Post 94, which lost to Parkersburg 12-8 in their lone meeting.

Colin Bryant is slated to toe the rubbber for the locals. The lefty is 4-0 with 30 strikeouts in 24 innings and sports a team-best 1.17 earned run average.

“Yeah, Colin Bryant is pitching Wednesday against Elkins and then my plan is to pitch Andrew Manley (3-2, 2.21 ERA, 31K, 25.1 IP) in the second game on Thursday,” said Goodwin, whose team earned their spot after defeating Wheeling last week for the Area 1 championship.

“I keep preaching to my kids let’s just worry about what we can control. I don’t care who’s on the other team. Throw strikes, hit the ball and play defense. We’re preparing like it’s another game.’

Post 15’s top six in the order, which has remained pretty much unchanged this summer, is expected to be the same on Wednesday with leadoff hitter Nic Menarchek (.366 AVG, 5 2Bs, 13 RBIs) being followed by Brett Haskins (.420 AVG, 7 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 18 RBIs), Brodie Wiggins (.377 AVG, 3 2Bs, 4 3Bs, HR, 20 RBIs), Dustin Corley (.412 AVG, 2 2Bs, 3B, HR, 16 RBIs), Eli Reeves (.388 AVG, 8 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 20 RBIs) and Cam Taylor (.419 AVG, 4 2Bs, 3B, 16 RBIs).

“He’s really played well for us,” Goodwin said of Taylor, who should be followed in the lineup by Izek Baldwin (.357 AVG, 2 2Bs, 3B, 11 RBIs), Carter King (.386 AVG, 2 2Bs, 12 RBIs) and Ben McPeek (.344 AVG, 2 2Bs, 14 RBIs). “I don’t care if you are single-A or triple-A. He’s from Ravenswood and he’s hit the ball well.”

The double-elimination state tournament winner will advance to the Mid-Atlantic Regional in Morgantown.

“Morgantown is hosting it the next three years,” noted Goodwin, who managed Post 15 when they won the 2018 state title and advanced to the Southeast Regional. “The winner of the state tournament will obviously go to regionals in Morgantown, but Morgantown already has a berth to the regionals because they are hosting, so there will be two (W.Va.) teams going to the regionals.”

Aside from the one game against South Charleston, the only other team Post 15 has faced is Wheeling, which dropped three of four to the locals.

“Bridgeport is kind of a sleeper. Morgantown is tough and we played them and lost a couple times so Bridgeport must be good,” Goodwin said. “Historically, they’ve had good teams. I don’t know enough about them, but you can’t underestimate Bridgeport. I think, when you get to this point, all the teams are good. I’m proud of the fact we won Area 1.

“We didn’t back our way into this tournament even though our area is hosting it. I give our chances just as good as anybody. I do believe South Charleston is strong and I do believe that Wheeling is strong also. They had some kids out last week and they’ll probably have them back this week. We may have won the battle, but the war is definitely going to involve Wheeling.”

Wiggins, who leads the team with a .532 on-base percentage as well as being second on the team in slugging percentage behind Reeves (.673 to .607), has drawn 17 base on balls against 11 strikeouts.

Haskins paces Post 15 with 10 sacrifices, Menarchek has coaxed a team-high 18 free passes while King leads Post 15 with six stolen bases.

“For getting started as late as we did because West Virginia high school pushed us back, I’m happy we’ve got 24 games (one forfeit) in at this point,” Goodwin added. “I feel like we’re playing well as a team. I got them brainwashed. I don’t care what their average is. I care about one stat, winning or losing. If you’re in the four, five hole and it’s time to bunt you are going to bunt. That’s the good thing about these kids. They are unselfish and they will do what the team needs them to do and this bunch has completely bought into that.

“I feel good (about our chances). This year has been very fulfilling for us because we are able to be sanctioned officially by the American Legion and the kids are playing for something versus last year where we just tried to get games in to get games in because the high school season was canceled. This year is very fulfilling for us because we can play for the veterans of the Mid-Ohio Valley. We may have won a state championship in 2018, but we want to get another one.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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