WHEELING - After watching Wheeling Post 1 score nine times in the top of the ninth to hand his club a 14-7 defeat in the West Virginia Area One Tournament Friday at the Chambers I-470 Sports Complex, manager Bill Burkett's Moundsville club had to battle all the way to avoid elimination against Weirton Post 10, which was determined to play better than it did in losing 12-2 to Wheeling in the opening round of the tournament.
Moundsville earned a trip to the state tournament and ended Weirton's season with a 10-7 victory.
Jake Lucas got the start and picked up a victory with relief help from Wylie Koontz in the seventh and Hunter Kaschke in the ninth.
John Mirandy, capping off a four-RBI day, drove in two runs with a single, while Mark Walker had two singles and two RBI. Moundsville's 16-hit explosion also included two singles, a double and an RBI from Jimmy Henderson. Todd Schmidt added two more hits and another RBI, giving him three RBIs on the day.
Weirton collected 10 hits, two each from Tre Smith and Cody Harmon. Chris Perna drove in three runs with a two-run single and a sacrifice fly.
''We should have pulled the other one out," Burkett said, still reflecting on the opening loss to Wheeling. ''We were ahead in the ninth and started walking people. Then we dropped a fly ball.
Moundsville 10, Weirton 7
Weirton 022 001 200 - 7 10 3
Moundsville402 012 01x - 10 16 1
WEIRTON: Fuscardo (LP, 1K, 1BB), Pellen (7, 2K, 1BB) and Harmon; Smith 2S; Shaw D; Cessna D, rbi; Harmon 2S; Viakley D, rbi; Pern S, 3rbi; Pellen D, rbi.
MOUNDSVILLE - Lucas (WP, 4K, 6BB), Koontz (7, 1K, 2BB); Kaschke (9, 0K, 0BB) and M.Walker; Henderson 2S, D, rbi; Lucas 2S; Mirandy S, 2rbi; Schmidt 2S, rbi; Wellman 2S; Hughes 2S; Hanna S, rbi; M. Walker 2S, 2rbi.
''But we are in the state tournament and it's good for the kids. We've had a good season and I'm glad we'll still be playing next week.''
The end of the season for Weirton and manager Bill Magnone was kind of bittersweet. Back leading the Post 10 team after a couple years off, Magnone said he is definitely looking to the future.
''It stinks to lose,'' he said. ''But these kids played hard all season. We shot ourselves in the foot a few times again but at least there was no give in our kids.
''I think we've started in the right direction and we'll keep building on that. Let's face facts. Moundsville and Wheeling beat us and they earned the right to play in the state tournament. Good luck to both teams.''
Wheeling 14, Moundsville 7
Nine in the ninth was the springboard that carried Wheeling Post 1 into the championsip round Friday.
Trailing top-seeded Moundsville Post 3 by 7-5 entering the top of the ninth inning, Wheeling got some help with a pair of walks and a dropped fly ball that allowed the tying run to score. Once the door was opened, the defending area champions pounded out five hits, including Matt Carnahan's tape-measure, two-run home run that put the finishing touches on a 14-7 Post 1 victory.
''We've faced adversity several times this year and for the most part our kids have done really well in those situations,'' Wheeling manager Tom Pasco said. ''To have our senior leadership not crumble has been a very satisfying thing all year.
''Our kids didn't come into the dugout with heads down and pouting when they were behind. They took advantage of a break in that last inning and it seemed like everything went our way the rest of the game.''
Wheeling's comeback helped set up what some might call an anti-climatic finish to the Area One championship. Post 1, as the host team for the West Virginia state tournament opening next Wednesday morning, doesn't have to win the area crown. Neither does Moundsville, which stayed alive by bouncing back Friday night a 10-7 verdict against Weirton Post 10 in an elimination game.
If Post 3 wins today's 1 p.m. contest on the I-470 diamond, the teams would meet again 30 minutes later to decide the Area One champion.
Pasco doesn't want to hear any talk about today's game not meaning anything.
''We will worry about the state tournament when we get there,'' he insisted. ''Winning the area championship would be an exclamation point on being the coach here,
''The nice thing about winning (Friday) game is that it gives us a lot of postives. Our players get to rest and our pitchers don't need to be throwing. I hope we only play one game on Saturday.''
Ethan Jacobs drove in three runs with two singles and a suicide squeeze against Moundsville. Collecting two RBI were Carnahan, Haydon Stanley, Nick Breen and Andrew Kowalo.
Post 3 got a double and two singles with a pair of RBI from Mirandy. Schmidt and Ryan Hughes knocked in two runs each.
Moundsville led 3-0 after the first inning when Mirandy's double brought home Henderson, Tanner Hanna was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Hughes singled in a run.
After getting one run back when Patrick Biega scored on a wild pitch in the second, Wheeling got even in the top of the fourth on Kowalo's run-scoring single and Jacobs' perfectly executed squeeze bunt.
Moundsville went up 4-3 when Schmidt's sacrifice fly scored Jake Lucas but Wheeling countered with the tying run in the sixth after Kowalo walked, took second on Nate Bakaitis' single and came home when Jacobs banged an RBI hit on a line drive that bounced off Hanna's glove at second base.
Post 1 then took its first lead of the game in the seventh as Dillon Williams' single and eventually scored on Jon-Michael Brunner's base knock.
However, Moundsville regained the lead with two runs on just one hit in the home half of the seventh. Mirandy led off with a base hit followed by two walks, Hughes' sacrifice fly and an error made it a 6-5 game. Post 3 then padded the lead to 7-5 in the eighth when Henderson singled and later scored on Schmidt's double down the third-base line.
Wheeling's ninth started with walks to Carnahan and Brunner. One out later, Kowalo ripped a run-scoring double into right-center. A dropped fly ball in shallow right field let in the tying run and Jacobs' popup on another squeeze bunt attempt went over the pitcher's head and fell in safely for an RBI single. Stanley promptly doubled in two runs for a 10-7 Post 1 lead. After Williams walked, Breen drove in a pair with a solid single and Carnahan concluded the rally with a huge blast that easily cleared the fence in left field.
Kowalo, who took over pitching duties in the seventh inning, got credit for a victory.