By TONY VIOLA
GLEN DALE - When it came down to it, Jameson Murray proved he was the true beast of the east.
Photo by Tony Viola
Wheeling Post 1’s pitcher Jameson Murray delivers a pitch in the team’s game against the Western, Pa. Slurve Sunday during the Beast of the East Classic at John Marshall High School. Post 1 won 4-3.
The Wheeling pitcher went the distance as Post 1 defeated Western Pa., 4-3, in 10 innings to win the Second Place Bracket during the 26 annual Edgar Martin Beast of the East baseball tournament.
Post 1, the No. 4 seed in the bracket, finished the tournament with an 8-1 record as Wheeling won three games on the final day, two in extra innings.
Murray worked his way out of several jams during the championship game, but none more impressive or important than in the bottom of the seventh.
The Slurve, making thier first apperance in the tournament, had two runners in scoring position with the scored tied at 2-2. That's when Post 1 coach Mark Delbrugge decided he needed a talk with his infield.
The pep talk paid off as Murray induced two ground outs to get out of the inning unscathed.
''We started talking about cheese,'' he said. ''Pepper jack cheese. We just start talking about some random things, get some laughs then go back to playing baseball. It gets my mind off things.''
The Linsly graduate retired the side in both the eighth and ninth innings to set up the offense in the 10th.
Andrew Kowalo ledoff the inning with a double to right center and scored on a Justice Jackson hit up the middle.
Jackson advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Chad Harper, who caught all 26 innings, and scored on a Jarrett Delbrugge hit.
The insurance run paid off as Zach Burkhart doubled in Travis Lauster to trim the lead to 4-3.
Murray found himself in another jam with runners on second and third with no outs.
It didn't matter. Murray struck out Scott Ventura, Greg Yaksich popped up to Harper and Wyatt Daugherty hit into a 1-3 to end the game.
The victory servers as the highest a Post 1 squad has ever finished in the Beast of the East.
''I've never been through a day of baseball like this in my life,'' Coach Delbrugge said. ''We made a few coaching decisions that worked out, but these guys, I'm just so proud of them.''
Murray retired 10 batters on strikes and allowed 10 hits as he threw 150 pitches to earn a complete-game victory, just the second of his career.
''They hit the ball pretty good off me, but our defense is pretty good,'' Murray said. ''We just never gave up. We gave up 40 some runs to get in the second seed bracket, but that doesn't show our defense. Our defense is pretty good.''
After taking a 1-0 lead in the sixth, Post 1 (20-7) had to fight to force extra innings as the Slurve, who finished the tournament with a 6-2 record, picked up two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Jarrett Delbrugge hit a leadoff single to start the seventh and advanced to second on a throwing error by the short stop. Two outs later, Coach Delbrugge decided to take a risk.
On a Matt Brooks bunt, the Post 1 coach sent Delbrugge in on a suicide squeeze to tie the game.
''These guys were just unbelievable (Sunday),'' Coach Delbrugge said. ''I can't say enough for what they did for us. To have guys on second and third with no outs and we wiggled out of it ... it's unbleivable. My son kept saying 'Dad, you have to get (Murray) out,' but I went out (to the mound) and he said I got this coach. I'll get us through this. And he did.''
Color Slurve coach Eric Furl impressed. Not just with Murray's performance, but the game itself.
''It was a great ball game,'' he said. ''Both teams played really well. We made a few miscues. I always tell my boys the team that makes the fewest mistakes is going to win the game and that's what pretty much happened. We made a couple more than they did and it cost us. My guys are 16 and 17 (years-old) and I think they played their hearts out.
''We've had a lot of tight games sine we've been here. This is the last game of the tournament and you start to get low on pitching. Their kid threw 10 innings. That's unheard of. I was scrambling to find guys to get us there.''
Another impressive aspect of Wheeling's run is the fact it was missing its top two hitters in center fielder Russell Schwertfeger, a .450 hitter, and infielder Nate Bakaitas.
They were replaced by the likes of Nick Naumann and Trevor Stewart, both of whom usually just see action on the mound.
''This is just going to prepare us for the area tournament and the state tournament,'' Coach Delbrugge said. ''When you're taxed like this and you have a long tournament, guys have to step up. We had every guy step up and do something. Whether it was a bunt, a suicide squeeze, moving a runner over, making a great play in the field, it was just a total team effort.''
Wheeling 3, Tri-County 2
Momo Felt tossed 73 pitches in nine innings of work as Post 1 defeated top seed Tri-County.
Jackson scored the winning run when a Harper bunt turned into a base hit on a throwing error by the catcher.
Wheeling tied the game in the sixth as it picked up two runs. Eric Crow drove in Kowalo and Harper scored while Crow was being chased in a rundown.
Felt retired the side four times and allowed nine hits to go with five Ks.
Wheeling 2, Mid Atlantic 0
Jackson had a two-run double in the third inning as Wheeling blanked Mid Atlantic.
Shawn Pare earned a victory as he retired eight and allowed only two hits. Naumann added two hits for Post 1.