Wheeling Legion sweeps pair in the Beast of the East
WHEELING — Every time Wheeling Post 1 pitcher Ryan Hummel steps on the mound, he puts all of his trust in his teammates.
That trust was on full display on Friday as the right-hander from Wheeling Park pitched to contact and threw six scoreless innings of three-hit ball — striking out four and walking one — and he only needed 60 pitches to do it.
Behind Hummel’s effort, Post 1 secured a 7-0 victory over the Hiland Hawks on Day 2 of the 31st Annual Edgar Martin Beast of the East at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Complex.
Along with Hummel’s stellar outing, Wheeling received a three-hitter from Isaac Hines in the nightcap to lead Post 1 to a 12-2 victory in five innings to improve its tournament record to 3-1.
The momentum grew early and it started on the mound. Hummel needed only nine pitches in the second inning and five in the third and sat at 28 pitches after three perfect innings.
“My gameplan kind of developed as the game went on,” Hummel said. “Since we don’t get to see these teams, we don’t really know what the hitters are like but I found my fastball was working and I stuck with it.
“It feels really great when you start hitting your spots and start seeing weak ground balls and getting outs. When you have a defense behind me like I do, If I hit my spots, there’s going to be a play made.”
The perfect game came to a close in the fourth when Hiland’s Jared Hostetler delivered a bunt single but a double-play ended the frame and Hummel faced the minimum through four.
The Post 1 offense gave its pitcher plenty of run support, sparked by a Jarrod Jones, no doubt about it, two-run home run in the fifth that landed well beyond the left field fence.
“(Jones) has been on a tear,” Post 1 manager Jon-Michael Brunner said. “It seems like everything he hits is on the barrel. He kind of surprised me last year with his work ethic. What he’s doing on the field is because he works so hard.”
Post 1 jumped out to the early lead with a three-run first — set up by a leadoff single from James Salvatori. Then, a perfectly executed hit-and-run by Trevor Thomas and a catcher’s interference loaded the bases with no outs.
Jones knocked in a run on a grounder and Hunter Kelley provided the big blow with a two-run single.
As a team, Wheeling hit for the cycle in a four-run fifth as Jones homered, Jon Milton legged out a RBI triple, Kelley doubled and Thomas singled. Dom Gorence also plated a run on a sacrifice fly.
Jake Auten recorded the final three outs for Post 1.
After cruising through the first game, Post 1 came out of the gates sluggish in Game 2.
The North Coast Pelicans took an early 2-0 edge after a pair of errors and two balks.
That’s when Brunner gathered his team in the dugout for a quick reminder to stay positive.
“That’s how we seem to attack doubleheaders sometimes,” Brunner said. “We play really well and it’s almost like we have a lack of focus at the beginning of the second game. We kind of booted the ball around a little bit and I just wanted them to stay focused and keep them trusting in each other. If you’re negative, it’s going to find you quick and that’s kind of what I told them, too. We kind of got back to our brand of baseball after that.”
They certainly did.
His team responded with a run in the second on a leadoff walk to Milton, who supplied some heads up base-running after reaching second.
With the infield drawn in on the grass defending the bunt, Milton broke for third, swiping the base with ease.
Eli Petho brought him home on a sacrifice fly.
Brunner’s squad broke it open in the third with a seven-run frame, using six walks to bat around.
James Salvatori paced the outburst with a two-run double, while Jones tallied a RBI knock and Zac Taylor added a RBI sacrifice fly.
Thomas, Chas McCool and Jones all drew bases loaded walks to plate runs and a passed ball brought home McCool.
“That’s the growth of these guys,” Brunner said. “They’re aggressive hitters but sometimes you have to tame it back. They did a really good job of hitting the ball (Friday) but patient at-bats were key.”
Hines made the lead stand up behind his three punchouts and two unearned runs.
“Nothing shakes that dude,” Brunner said of Hines. “He had two balks in the first inning but once he settled in and got some offense, he did a helluva job and really controlled the game.”
Salvatori showcased his speed in the fifth with a RBI triple, followed by a RBI grounder from Thomas, a RBI single from Taylor and another passed ball that scored Jones.
Brunner plans to send Petho and Dylan Gongola to the hill today as Post 1 entertains the Independent Players at 1 p.m. and the West Virginia Monarchs at 6 p.m.