Errors doom Brilliant in setback to Wheeling

CONNORVILLE — A good American Legion baseball team like Wheeling Post 1 doesn’t need much help. When the opposition starts giving it more than three outs in an inning, watch out.

That was such the case Tuesday night on Bill Mazeroski Field at Buckeye Local High School as Post 1 (5-3) took advantage of seven fielding or throwing errors by homestanding Brilliant Post 573 for a 14-1 victory in a game stopped after five innings due to the 10-run mercy-rule.

Trailing Brilliant (2-2) by a 1-0 score after two innings, the visitors exploded for all their runs over the next three frames as errors by Post 573 started each inning.

“We couldn’t get outs at times. You get 21 outs a game, but it seemed liked we gave them 40,” Brilliant manager Keith Rejonis said. “Some of those innings it seemed like we gave them 5, 6 … 7 outs. You can’t do that against a good hitting team like Wheeling. When they hit the ball, they hit the ball.”

Indeed Wheeling does.

Post 1 banged out 12 hits — all coming from the second through sixth batters in the order. Trevor Thomas (No. 2), Hunter Kelley (No. 4) and Dom Gorrence (No. 6) all rapped two safeties and combined for half-a-dozen runs batted in. Chas McCool (No. 3) and Zach Taylor (No. 5) evenly divided six safeties and drove in five runs.

While Post 1 manager Jon-Michael Brunner was happy with the end result, he just wishes his team would come out ready to play from the get-go.

“Unfortunately, that’s how we’ve been starting off most of our games this season,” he said of the first two scoreless frames. “We just talked to the kids about being more mentally tough to start the game. These guys know they are a good team, and we (coaches) do too, but we expect them to come out a little more fired up at the beginning.

“That is something that is a work in progress with these guys,” he continued. “In the second and third innings we started putting the ball in play more and made them (Brilliant) make plays defensively. One hit led to another and they had a couple errors mixed in there.”

All the while, Erik Cover, a hard-throwing senior-to-be at Wheeling Park, was in total control. The righthander struck out four and walked only one in four innings of work. He allowed just one hit, which could’ve went either way.

“We weren’t sure what we were going to get from Erik tonight,” Brunner admitted. “He didn’t throw many innings in the spring for Park, but our pitching coach had Erik in the JV levels for the past two or three years, so we decided to bring him up because he can really help us.

“Tonight was his second outing. He threw about 15 pitches a couple of days ago,” Brunner added. “He looked really good tonight. The thing I liked about him was he attacked the hitters. He stayed los in the zone and his off-speed stuff was keeping them off balance.”

The lone hit came in the first inning. With one out, Dasyn Hores sent a sharp one-hopper to third that deflected off the glove of Isaac Hines and caromed right to shortstop Trevor Thomas, but the speedy Hores beat the throw to first. He was later erased at the plate for the second out.

Taylor, who knocked in four runs, picked up half of them with a two-out single that capped a four-run third and put Post 1 ahead for good.

Thomas, McCool, Kelley and Taylor all rapped consecutive scoring hits in a four-run fourth as the margin increased to 8-1. Run-scoring singles from Kelley and Gorrence and a trio of Brilliant errors led to six runs in the fifth.

“Games like this will only make us better because St. Clairsville’s a good hitting club. Toronto is a good hitting club and Steubenville is a good hitting club,” Rejonis added. “They roped a lot of good hits tonight.”

Logan Wells worked a perfect fifth by inducing three fly balls.

Things don’t get any easier for Post 573 as it visits Toronto Post 86 tonight at 6. The Gem City is still basking in the state championship the high school baseball team won over the weekend.

Wheeling heads to Blissfield, Michigan, for a tournament that begins Thursday at 3:45 p.m. with a game against the Hudson/Ottawa winner.