MORGANTOWN - Morgantown baseball coach Mark McCarty said he relies on junior right-hander Nick Gallagher in the toughest games on the schedule.
Gallagher showed why Tuesday afternoon at Mylan Park.
Gallagher struck out 11 Monarchs in a complete-game shutout, as the Mohigans claimed Game 1 in the Best-of-3 West Virginia Class AAA Region One, Section Four series, 5-0.
John Marshall’s Shane Wellman works to the plate during Tuesday’s game against Morgantown. The two teams resume their Best-of-3 series today in Glen Dale.
The Mohigans (20-7) travel to John Marshall (12-13) for Game 2 today.
"That was a great job by him," McCarty said. "A really good encouraging thing about that is it shows he's got something in him because he had a tough outing last time. He's been a little sick, battling some kind of illness."
Gallagher showed no sign of fatigue against the Monarchs, as he brought his season record to 6-3, with two saves.
Though his pitch count reached 119, he was in control all night. He walked one batter, hit another, and scattered only six hits.
Most impressive about Gallagher's performance was his composure in pressure situations.
The Monarchs put runners in scoring position four times during the game. Three of those four times - twice with the bases loaded in the first two innings and once with runners on first and third in the seventh - Gallagher earned the third out of the inning with a strikeout.
"Two of those times, it was their best hitter," McCarty said. "That Wellman kid is a really good player. He was the guy we were wanting to keep people off base in front of. He's just knocked the crap out of it every time we've played them."
Gallagher struck out the Monarchs' third batter, Shane Wellman, four times.
"I tend to pitch to the situation a little bit, so when I know I'm in trouble, I kind of mentally kick it up a notch," Gallagher said. "That's something I've done all year."
Wellman took a tough loss on the mound, allowing five hits and two walks, while striking out four in six innings. His offense left nine runners stranded, while the Mohigans took advantage of their limited opportunities.
"Our bats were really asleep tonight," McCarty said. "I have no idea what was going on with that. That may be the worst we've swung all year. Maybe their pitcher was a little better than I thought. Of course that was the Wellman kid, too."
The only other time JM threatened was in the fifth inning, when MHS catcher Connor Leone scrambled a few feet behind the plate after a pass ball and Tanner Filben, who had singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch, thought he could take third. He couldn't - Leone quickly recovered the ball and gunned him down.
The Mohigans gave Gallagher all the insurance he needed with a four-run first inning. Leone led off with a single to right field, Nick Colasante reached on an error and Shane Commodore (2-for-3) smacked an RBI double to left. Albie Eddy drove in two runs on a triple down the left-field line and scored on Dakota Carr's ground out two batters later.