MORGANTOWN - Facing elimination, Wheeling needed a spark.
It didn't come until the later innings, however, and it was too little too late as Post 1 fell to Romney Post 91, 4-2, at Hawley Field in the American Legion state tournament.
''Hands down we didn't play our best baseball down here, unfortunately,'' Post 1 coach Ricky Szeligo said. ''Offensively we struggled. Pitching struggled also. All around, it wasn't our best baseball.''
Post 1 catcher Dom Ellis gears up to throw in Thursday’s W.Va. Legion State Tournament Game.
After dropping a 13-3 contest to Fairmont on Wednesday that sent Wheeling (24-19) to the loser's bracket in the tournament, the offense continued to have problems finding its rhythm as Post 1 found itself down 4-0 to Romney (32-10) as the game headed into the eighth inning.
''We were having poor at-bats, swinging at bad pitches, letting good pitches go,'' Szeligo said. ''It happened both games with us.''
Russell Schwertfeger then provided Post 1 with a much-needed lift as he reached on a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and raced to third when the catcher overthrew the second baseman on a pickoff attempt.
After Andrew Kowalo walked, Jesse Hartley drove in Schwertfeger as Post 1 cut the deficit to three.
Nate Bakaitis followed with a double into shallow center as Kowalo scored to make it 4-2.
Momo Felt, who came on in relief of starter Trevor Stewart, battled back from a 3-0 count to end another scoring threat from Post 91 in the top of the ninth as Romney stranded a runner on third.
With two outs in the bottom of the frame, Schwertfeger walked and advanced to second on a Justice Jackson hit.
The Brooke graduate then stole third before Kowalo walked to load the bases, which forced Post 91 coach Steve Ennis to change pitchers as Jesse Hartley came to the plate.
''I knew Jamison (Jones) would throw me strikes, I just didn't know if he could get them by the kid or not,'' Ennis said.
As it turned out, he could.
Hartley struck out swinging as Wheeling's season came to an end.
''Our all-around baseball was poor,'' Szeligo said. ''It wasn't the best baseball we played all season.''
Still, the first-year coach was glad his team got their feet wet in the state tournament moving forward.
''It's definitely experience,'' he said. ''I could tell a lot of players on our team were young and nervous going out there and competing on a big stage. State tournament is a big stage. Also playing in a big venue with WVU's field and stuff was a big eye-opener for them.
''I had a great time (coaching this season). I enjoy coaching all these kids from the different schools. Overall, it was a good time. I'm sad it's over.''