Post 33 shows its strengths in win over Weirton
WEIRTON — Less than two weeks into the American Legion baseball season, one thing is already quite clear — Jefferson County Post 33 is a juggernaut.
It continued its strong start to the season Tuesday night at Edwin J. Bowman Field with a 13-0, five-inning domination of Weirton Post 10 in which it showcased its strengths in every aspect of the game.
“We’ve got kids from different teams and everyone is getting along and having fun,” third baseman Andrew Kinney said. “We love baseball and we love being on the field. We’re coming together as a team.”
The win moves Post 33 to 10-2 on the season, with its losses coming in close battles with perennial powerhouse Wheeling Post 1.
“It’s a good start,” Jefferson County head coach Anthony Pierro said. “Of course we will say we wish we were 12-0 because we don’t want to lose any games. We’re getting into a stretch here where we will see where we are at this season.”
Jefferson County pounded out 10 hits, used three pitchers to combine for a three-hit shutout and turned several impressive plays in the field.
Of its 10 hits, seven went for extra bases, including five doubles.
“We barreled the ball up the whole game,” Pierro said. “We told the guys they have to have a good mindset at the plate and whatever happened in your last at bat, don’t bring it to the next one. They’re finally starting to learn that. They are starting to take pitches.”
Leading the way for Post 33 was Dom Argentine with three of those five doubles and three RBIs. Andrew Kinney also drove in a pair of runs with a double, and Matt Bell plated two as well. Josh Maurer and Noah Fayak tripled.
“Hitting has been one our key features on this team,” Kinney said. “Everyone is hitting the ball, and when that happens we do good things.”
Kinney also made a few impressive plays at third base that prevented Post 10 from getting hits.
While Post 33 is off to a strong start, the loss makes it five straight defeats to start the season for Weirton.
“Anytime you play a tough team like Post 33, you have to be ready from the first pitch and you have to expect to win,” Weirton head coach Jason Swartzmiller said. “It really didn’t seem to me like we did that. From the start it was a tough one. It comes with the mindset. We can’t have mistakes against a team like that because they are not a team that is going to let you get away with that. They pounce on you.
“Despite the losses, I told (the team) there are positives to take away from these games. We have to keep believing things are going to turn around.”
Post 33 opened the scoring in the top of the first when Noah Fayak reached on the first of five Post 10 errors, then scored on a two-out, RBI single by Klay Cottis after stealing third.
In the second, Jefferson County tacked on two more. Argentine doubled for the first time to lead off the inning, moved to third on a groundout and scored on an RBI groundout by Bell. With two outs, Branyen Wade drew a walk and scored on Maurer’s triple.
In the top of the third, Fayak walked and Clayton Criss reached on an error, then both scored on Kinney’s two-run double, Argentine’s second double with two outs plating him to make it 6-0.
Post 10’s best chances to get on the board came in the bottom third and fourth innings. In the third, Justin Pennybacker reached second on a two-out, two-base throwing error — Jefferson County’s lone fielding mishap of the game — but the next batter hit a comebacker to Post 33 starter Evan Lewis to end the threat. In the fourth, Christian Ridgeway singled and got to second on Nick Leonard’s single, but Ryan Neely fanned the next batter for the final out.
Post 10 never advanced a runner past second.
In the top of the fifth, Jefferson County fired the bats back up to plate seven — and it could have been more.
Fayak led off with a triple and scored on an RBI double by Criss. Cottis drew a walk — in the middle of which Weirton starter Bryson Walls was lifted — and Cayden Buxton singled off of Drew Curtis to load the bases. Argentine doubled to plate two. Neely was intentionally walked to load the bases again, pinch hitting for Luke Zorne, then Bell put a ball in play to drive in a run and reached on an error. Maurer singled and Lewis drew an RBI, bases-loaded walk to make it 13-0.
THE SLAM THAT WASN’T
With the bases loaded after Fayak reached on another error, Criss stepped to the plate for the second time in the inning and crushed a 1-1 pitch from Curtis well beyond the fence in straight-away center for what appeared to be a grand slam.
Once the dust settled from the celebration, the home plate umpire said not so fast. Maurer, who was on third, was ruled to have never touched home plate, becoming the third out to end the inning and preventing any of the runs from counting.
“He hit a couple of balls earlier in the game, but kind of got jammed a little bit,” Pierro said. “I told him when he came around he definitely didn’t get jammed on the that one. He put that ball halfway up the trees. Clayton works hard and deserves everything he gets. Hopefully he keeps bringing that and it brings energy to everyone else on the team.”
Despite it not counting, Kinney was impressed by his teammate’s shot.
“I was watching it and it vanished into the trees,” he said. “I’ve never seen a ball hit that far. It definitely fires us up. He’s one of the guys I love watching play.”
Lewis, a Carrollton product, got the start for Post 33 and gave up just one hit — a bloop single in the first inning — in three innings of work with a strikeout and no walks. Neely replaced him and worked around a couple of hits in the fourth to preserve the goose egg. Trevor Boggoss, another Carrollton player, closed the game out in the fifth without allowing a hit and fanning one.
“It was important to get some guys work that didn’t get work over the weekend,” Pierro said. “We wanted to make sure all of our arms were healthy headed into the weekend.”
The game wrapped up a stretch of six games in four days for Post 33, during which it went 4-2. After a day off today, the schedule gets even busier with a trip to the Hillbilly Classic tournament beginning Thursday.
“We’re prepared for it and we have enough pitching for it,” We’ll play five, maybe seven games. It’s nothing new to us.”
Jefferson County: Opens play in the Hillbilly Classic Thursday against an opponent to be determined.
Weirton: Will look for its first win on Sunday against Area 1 opponent New Martinsville.
(Grimm can be reached at email@example.com)
Jefferson County 13, Weirton 0
Jefferson County 1-2-3 0-7 — 13-10-1
Weirton 0-0-0 0-0 — 0-3-5
JEFFERSON COUNTY (10-2): Lewis (WP, 3IP, 0R, 1H, 1K, 0BB), Neely (1IP, 0R, 2H, 1K, 1BB), Boggoss (1IP, 0R, 0H, 1K, 0BB) and Criss.
WEIRTON (0-5): Walls (LP, 4 1/3IP, 7R, 5ER, 7H, 2K, 2BB), Curtis (2/3IP, 6R, 5ER, 3H, 1K, 3BB) and McUmar.
TWO OR MORE HITS: Jefferson County (Argentine 3); Weirton none. DOUBLES: Jefferson County 5 (Argentine 3, Kinney, Criss); Weirton none. TRIPLES: Jefferson County 2 (Fayak, Maurer); Weirton none. HOME RUNS: none. RBIs: Jefferson County 10 (Cottis, Bell 2, Maurer, Kinney 2, Aregentine 2, Criss, Lewis); Weirton none.