MORGANTOWN — There aren’t many better feelings in baseball than opening the season with a win. Of course, opening the season with a pair of wins can usually top it.
Morgantown Post 2 carried the momentum from its opening day throttling of Wheeling into a June 6 battle with Moundsville, and scored three unanswered runs to overcome an early deficit en route a 3-2 win in extra innings.
“I feel fine with our performance. We had 100 percent effort; it was just a bit of a rough day,” Post 2 head coach Tyler Barnette said. “It was just a couple of rough things that led to a close game.”
Post 2 fell into a hole early as Moundsville tallied two runs in the third inning. Barnette didn’t blink an eye. He was confident that his team would execute on the basics and play its way back into the game.
“We don’t tell them anything in that situation. The way we run this program is that if you do your thing correctly — if you trust the guy beside you to do the right things and he trusts you — then we’re going to win baseball games,” he said. “We’re not a rip-and-rally type team; we play boring baseball. We get down to the nitty gritty, we make baseball plays and we just try to grind out the win by doing our job.”
Post 2 slugger Devon Neal, who went 1-for-2 at the plate with two RBIs, said that when Moundsville nabbed the lead, he put the scoreboard out of his head and concentrated on the fundamentals. There was no room for negative energy in the Post 2 dugout; that’s what loses games.
“Our mentality is to keep our head up and focus,” he said. “You have to keep your head up. You can’t get down after making a mistake, and if you see someone who’s down, you have to go pick them up.
“It’s always about the fundamentals. Fundamentals are everything. You make mistakes; you can’t worry about it.”
It didn’t take long for the hosts to level the playing field; just an inning later, Neal drove home his pair of runs with one powerful swing of the bat. All of a sudden, it was a tight ballgame once more.
“It wasn’t a matter of if we were going to come back, but when. Teams are going to have spurts every game. That’s just how baseball goes. Their spurt was in the third inning, and ours was in the fourth,” Barnette said.
Both teams struggled at the plate for the rest of regulation, failing to find an answer for their opponent. Barnette, confident in his team’s deep-hitting ability, was sure that if his squad could advance a runner to second that it would be in good shape.
Moundsville had the same realization, however, and scratched and clawed to keep Post 2 runners off the bases.
“I thought it was going to be a late dinner for a while. We just needed to get a guy on second. With the guys we have at the plate, I knew if we got a guy on second we could have an opportunity. We just didn’t get it until that last inning,” Barnette said. Moundsville “played amazing baseball; they kept us off second base a lot. We only had three or four runners on second the whole game. That says a lot on their part.”
Post 2 returns to action at 2:30 p.m. Friday, against Uniontown, Pa., and 5 p.m., against Romney, in the WAJR Wooden Bat Classic, at Mylan Park.
“I think this is one of those games we can look at as a baseline game. We could have played better, but we could have played worse,” Barnette said. “It was our baseline game — if we can play baseball games like this or better all season, we’ll win a lot.”