When a team has a winning percentage over .800, it can seem like only an act of God can stop them, and that’s exactly what it took last night.
Coming into their match-up with Bridgeport at Mylan Park last night, the Morgantown Post 2 American Legion baseball team has been the Big Kahuna so far this season, riding the wave — and its bats — to a stellar, 18-4 record. Unbeaten against West Virginia teams, manager Tyler Barnette’s crew was looking to keep on keeping on against their Area 2 rivals. And Post 2 posted a big six spot in the first and was cruising along with a 6-0, when lightning strikes suspended and finally ended the game with one out in the sixth, although it still counts as an official Morgantown shutout win.
“Yeah, we really wanted to get a chance to score four in the sixth and put this one away,” Barnette’s said after the umpires called the game, “but we’ll take the win over a very good team and a very tough pitcher, maybe the best in the state.”
That tough pitcher, right-hander Logan Swiger, slammed straight into a Post 2 (19-4) lineup that was more like a buzz saw in the bottom of the first, as Colton Matthews led off with a sharp single to right, followed by Ethan Smith’s bouncing double down the third base line and Andrew Berry’s patient walk.
That brought clean-up catcher Caleb Taylor to the plate, who’s been absolutely raking all year, and he continued with a ringing double to the right center gap that plated a pair. Two wild pitches brought another two, then a walk, an infield error, and second two-RBI double, this one from No. 9 hitter Chandler Watts, finished off the six-run inning.
While Swiger’s disastrous first frame consumed a whopping 43 pitches, Post 2 right handed horse Cam Stoldt threw the same number — but spread them out over his first three efficient shutout innings, scattering four hits and striking out two while walking none. In fact, Stoldt had retired nine straight and was in complete command when play was halted.
“It was the two-seam and the cutter,” he said. “With a big early lead like that, you just try to throw lots of strikes and make them beat you. It really helps having an experienced catcher like Caleb back there, too. He knows what I can do, and he’s great at framing pitches. Great confidence booster.
“It was a bummer not to get to finish,” he continued, “because we were on a pretty good roll. But I’ll take a shutout any day, especially against a team from our area.”
While Post 2 threatened in the second and third and barreled some pitches with runners in scoring position, they were unable to add to their lead, something that a manager can certainly work with.
“You know, I can’t fault the guys for having poor at-bats at all,” Barnette said. “Maybe I needed to get the runners moving in a spot here or there, try to press them defensively. Any time you have a chance to chase a quality arm early, you’re better off getting it done, but this was still a real good effort tonight. We were strong in all phases — adding on in the first, Cam pitching to contact, and some nice, solid, boring defensive baseball. Just the way we like it.”