MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. - After a rough 2-19 start to the season, St. Marys Post 79 manager Wirt Cook is finally starting to see his team come around, especially with the bats.
It's a good thing Moundsville Post 3 manager Bill Burkett was away for an American Legion convention because he surely wouldn't have wanted to see just how far Post 79 has come.
St. Marys collected 14 hits, jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first and never looked back in a 13-2 thumping in the opener of the Post 3 Tournament on Thursday at Monarch Field.
JOSH STROPE Special to The Times
St. Marys’ D.J. Burgess scores on a double by Jarrod Lough. Mark Walker is Moundsville Post 3 catcher, Hunter Kaschke is No. 1
''We hit the ball pretty hard and that has really been the case lately,'' Cook said. ''We are 11-22 now, 9-3 over our last 12 games. We have a young team but they are finally starting to hit the ball. Not to mention, we have had great pitching which has really led to us winning games.
''With the top of our lineup finally starting to hit the ball, they set the pace. Hitting is contagious and our leadoff hitter (Mitch Davis) getting a hit up the middle (Thursday) started a nice day. Once they get going, our top seven guys, there's not an easy out in that lineup anywhere.''
Davis hit the first pitch he saw from Post 3 starter Hunter Kaschke. He stole second base before D.J. Burgess doubled him home. Winning pitcher Jarrod Lough switched places with Burgess as Post 79 led 2-0.
Post 3 Tournament
St. Marys 13, Moundsville 2
St. Marys 303 232 - 13 13 3
Moundsville 002 000 - 2 5 5
WP: Lough 2 SO, 3 BB
LP: Kaschkle 2 SO, 4 BB
St. Marys hitting: Davis RBI; Burgess 2B, 2 RBIs; Lough 2B, RBI; Brunicardi 2 hits; Romine 2 hits, RBI; Bolin 3 hits, 2B, 3 RBIs; Salmons 2B, RBI.
Moundsville hitting: Henderson (5) (1SO, 0W) and Walker. Wellman 1 hit, RBI; Walker 2B, RBI.
Potomac Valley 11, St. Marys 6
St. Marys 013 110 0 - 6 11 4
Potomac Valley 002 630 x - 11 12 3
WP: See 7IP 2BB 2SO
LP: Robbie Harper 4IP 3BB 2SO
Ryder Bolin 2IP 1BB 0SO
Leading hitters: St. Marys - Mitch Davis 2-4, 2B, RBI, run; Jarrod Lough 3-4, 2 2Bs, RBI, 2 runs; Ryder Bolin 2-4, 2B, RBI, run; Colby Vanoy 2-2, 3 RBIs; Robbie Harper 2-3, run. Potomac Valley - See 3-4, 2 RBIs, 3 runs; Warner 2-4; Keller 2-4, 2B, RBI; Starkey 2-3, RBI, run; Smith 3-3, 3 RBIs, 3 runs.
Record: St. Marys 11-23
Next game: Fairmont Post 17 vs. St. Marys Post 79, 1 p.m. at Post 3 Tournament today; St. Marys Post 79 vs. Beckley, 8 a.m. Saturday
It could have been 3-0 before an out was recorded but Lough was tagged out at home by Moundsville catcher Mark Walker trying to score on a single by Tony Brunicardi.
Brunicardi later scored on an RBI single from Ryder Bolin.
''Hitting is going to lead to us getting a lot of wins,'' Cook said. ''It makes it easy for our pitchers when Jarrod walked out with a 3-0 lead before he even threw a pitch.
''It lets him know he can work ahead, throw strikes, put the ball in play and let his defense help.''
Lough allowed one hit in the first two innings.
Post 79 doubled their lead in the third to 6-0, highlighted by a two-run double from Bolin.
Moundsville made its only charge in the home half of the third. With the bases loaded, Shane Wellman dropped a blooper into left field to bring home Todd Schmidt as Post 79 left fielder Colby Vanoy and shortstop Brunicardi collided going for the ball.
The runners halted at their respective bases as umpires and coaches attended to the two. Vanoy stayed in the game, but Brunicardi got a knee in the ribs and was taken to the hospital.
''I don't expect him to play later (Thursday) but he is a tough kid and it wouldn't surprise me if he was back in the lineup (today),'' Cook said.
After the nearly 15-minute wait, Lough was a little off, throwing four straight balls to Walker to bring home Moundsville's second run. The threat ended two pitches later when Kaschke lined out to third and Ryan Hughes was tagged off third.
St. Marys continued its assault scored two in the fourth, three in the fifth, and two in the sixth to invoke the 10-run mercy rule.
''We played flat and we have been playing flat for two nights,'' Post 3 assistant coach Denny Wellman said. ''We had a big game against Steubenville and we played well. We haven't played well since.
''(Getting in the hole in the first didn't matter) with the way we were hitting. Their pitcher was pretty good and we just couldn't throw strikes.''
In a second game scheduled later in the afternoon, Potomac Valley used a six-run fourth inning to pull away from St. Marys and defeat the Post 79 squad 11-6.
St. Marys pounded out 11 hits, including a 3-for-4 effort from Jarrod Lough, who had two doubles and scored twice. Mitch Davis, Ryder Bolin, Colby Vanoy and Robbie Harper each contributed two hits.