WHEELING - Momo Felt didn't play in a single inning during Wheeling Post 1's contest with St. Clairsville Post 159, but to some, he was a factor in the outcome.
Post 1 trailed 3-0 as they entered the bottom of the sixth, but before Wheeling went to the plate, the former Linsly standout gathered the bats, threw them on the ground and yelled 'wake up!'
While the magic didn't work for Post 1 in the sixth, it did in the seventh as Wheeling scored four runs, including a two-run two-out single by Chad Harper, to beat Post 159, 4-3.
Photo by Tony Viola/Wheeling Post 1 third baseman Jameson Murray makes a throw to first during the fifth inning of action against St. Clarisville Post 159 Tuesday at the I-470 sports complex.
''Mo does this little thing were he throws the bats down on the ground and sprinkles rasen (German for grass) on them and screams at them,'' Post 1 coach Mark Delbrugge said. ''I think the bats woke up and we woke up.''
Come-from-behind victories are quickly becoming the norm for Post 1 as they've won seven straight after a 3-4 start. During the Hillbilly Hardball Classic, Post 1 rallied from a four run deficit in three of their five games. All resulted in wins.
Another rally may have seemed unlikely the way St. Clairsville pitcher Lucas Lloyd was dealing at the I-470 sports complex. The Martins Ferry rising senior scattered five hits and no Post 1 runner advanced beyond second during the first six innings.
However, with one out, Nate Hardman reached on an error and moved to second on a wild pitch. After Gage Giovengo was walked, Russell Schwertfeger plated Hardman on a sacrifice fly to center.
Justice Jackson then drove in Giovengo as he reached on an error to bring Wheeling (10-4) within one at 3-2.
With Nate Bakaitas on third and Andrew Kowalo on second, Harper drove a 1-1 pitch down the third baseline to earn the walk-off victory.
While the offense provided the fireworks in the seventh, it was Post 1 pitcher Matt Brooks who was the real star of the show. The recent Wheeling Park graduate allowed three runs on four hits in 67 pitches to earn a complete-game victory. He also retired the side in five of the seven innings.
''He was very, very good,'' Delbrugge noted. ''Our pitching all year has been very, very good. Brooks kept us in the game. All of his pitches were working. That's the best he's thrown in a long time. That gives us a boost, too, from the right side. We have the left-handed pitching, but we just need guys for the right side.''
Brooks came up big in the seventh as Post 159 (10-7) had the bases loaded with two-out, but the righty induced a groundout to end the inning.
According to St. Clarisville coach Mike Jacob, the mental breakdown by Post 159 in the frame might have led to their eventual downfall. Post 159 committed two errors in the bottom of the seventh, one with two-out that could have ended the game.
''I think sometimes we allow things to effect us at the plate and maybe we take it to the field,'' Jacob said. ''Honestly, I'm not going to make any excuses. They hit the ball hard and when you do that, good things happen. They battled in that last inning. Hats off to them.''
Lloyd took the hard-luck loss as he walked four and retried two batters on strikes.
''He mixed a lot of his pitches up well,'' Jacob said. ''He's done a heckuva job. He keeps hitters off balanced. I think he deserved a better fate, but that's how baseball goes sometimes.''
St. Clarisville scored all three of its runs in the third.
Tyler Ramsey hit a fly ball into the right-center gap that just eluded a diving Schwertfeger to start the inning.
Michael Jacob then reached on a catcher's interference and Cody Goletz loaded the bases as Post 1 couldn't field his bunt.
After two fly outs, Wheeling looked as though it would get out of the inning unharmed, but Eric Banal doubled into deep left field to drive in all three runners.