MOUNDSVILLE - In the Area 1 tournament championship game, Justice prevailed.
Justice Jackson tripled and doubled among three hits, drove in and scored two runs each and also pitched six solid innings as Wheeling Post 1 defeated St. Marys, 9-4, to punch its ticket to Morgantown for the state tournament.
Photo by Tony Viola
Wheeling’s Justice Jackson delivers in a victory Friday against St. Marys.
''Overall we played well,'' Wheeling manager Ricky Szilego said. ''Our pitching came out and pitched well for us. Jackson came in and pitched a great game.''
The rising senior at Wheeling Park took the mound against a Post 79 squad that had collected 38 hits with nine home runs during the course of the tournament, and held the team to one run on three hits.
''He's been hot all tournament,'' Szilego said of Jackson. ''He's come in clutch all three games. We're happy for him.''
Jackson also jump-started the Post 1 offense during the third as he recorded the team's first hit and drove in the game's first run.
With two outs in the frame, Jackson singled to right field to bring in Tyler Ashbrook as Post 1 took a 1-0 lead.
Then, after already stealing second, Jackson stole third but the catcher missed the third baseman on the pickoff attempt and Jackson turned the corner and raced home.
That was followed up by three consecutive RBI singles by Dom Ellis, Nate Bakaitis and Colton Coss as Wheeling held a 5-0 advantage at the end of the inning.
''Jumping on a team early is a great start,'' Szilego pointed out. ''(St. Marys) beat us twice in the regular season and we came out here for a purpose and that was to start out early and, throughout the whole game, just stay on them.''
Post 1 did just that as they took a 7-1 lead coming into the bottom of the seventh, but that's when Post 79 attempted a comeback as Robbie Harper hit a leadoff homer to start the frame.
Jarrod Lough added a two-run homer two outs later and suddenly Wheeling's lead was cut to three.
After Jackson doubled in Ashbrook in the top of the eighth, Post 79 loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning as Harper was hit by a pitch, but Aaron Tice hit into a 4-6-3, inning-ending double play to squander St. Marys' chance.
''I think we just got burned out after three days in a row,'' Post 79 manager Steve Tice said. ''It's a hard deal to come out of that loser's bracket. The boys were just a little flat. We would get the momentum a couple of times then we'd just lose it. The bottom of the eighth, when we hit into that double play with the bases loaded, that hurt us quite a bit.''
Wheeling will now play the winner of the Area 2 tournament Wednesday at 3:30 in Morgantown.