WHEELING - Wheeling Post 1 put on its patriotic best Friday in the Edgar Martin beast of the East Baseball Tournament.
It even supplied its own Fourth of July fireworks, and didn't wait for sundown to set them off.
Post 1 ripped out 17 more hits - they have 36 in their last two games - and scored 15 runs, including a seven-run uprising in the third to beat Central Ohio Zebra Elite, 15-7, at the J.B. Chambers 1-470 Complex.
PHOTO BY DAVE MORRISON
Hand in hand, Wheeling Post 1 third baseman Jameson Murray, prepares to make a catch Friday in foul ground.
The seven spot in the third was timely, coming after the Zebras had erased a 4-0 deficit with four runs in the second.
"When you fight back and score four runs to tie the score, the next half inning becomes the most important in the game," Zebras coach Sean Gorby said. "If you can get them to go 1-2-3 then you have a chance, you gain the momentum. When you give up a seven spot, that's not going to be good enough when you are playing good competition."
It started slowly enough, when catcher Chad Harper legged out a single. He then beat a throw to second for a force out at second on a slow roller to shortstop by Eric Crow. Two wild pitches later, he scored the go-ahead run. Then, the floodgates opened.
Run-producing hits by Joe Minor, Russell Schwertfeger, Justice Jackson, Harper, who had two hits in the third, highlighted the inning.
"We're hitting the ball one through nine," Post 1 manager Mark Delbrugge said. "There isn't one guy who comes to the plate that I don't think is going to get a hit. We're barreling the ball. Even the outs we make are hit hard. Nate Bakaitis is tearing the cover off the ball but it's right at somebody."
Everybody in the lineup had at least one hit.
That was more than enough for Bakaitis, who encountered a couple of bumpy innings but still was able to give Post 1 seven strong.
"The key to this tournament is a pitcher eating up innings, and Nate did that for us," Delbrugge said. "He ran into a little trouble in the second, but he did a good job of making good pitches at key times."
Which made the third all the more important.
Post 1 (15-4) also took advantage of every opportunity Zebra Elite gave it.
Schwertfeger hit a shot in the first that got by the center fielder and by the time the Brooke speedster stopped running it was 1-0.
Bakaitis followed with a triple, Andrew Kowalo was hit by a pitch and Jackson walked.
Harper followed with a sacrifice fly, Crow a ground-out RBI and Jameson Murray an RBI single to make it 4-0.
Zebra Elite tied it in the second but the third did in the Ohio-based team.
The Zebras committed six errors, four which led directly to runs.
"We didn't do ourselves any favors," Gorby said. "When you score seven runs and get eight hits, you should be able to win ballgames at this level, but not when you make as many mental mistakes as we did. They took advantage of them, which is what good teams do."
Schwertfeger had three hits, scored three runs and knocked in a pair to lead Wheeling. Bakaitis, Jackson, Harper, Murray and Joe Minor had two each.
Max Baker had three hits, drove in three runs and scored twice for Zebra Elite.