GRANVILLE — After the first inning at home at Mylan Field against Grafton Post 12 on July 6, Morgantown American Legion Post 2 manager Tyler Barnette was a bit worried.
His starter, righty Matt Renner, looked pretty good, although he gave up a long double to Chase Setler before escaping unscathed. But the real worry was the three buried breaking balls that resulted in three strikeouts from vastly improved Grafton starter Garrett Moats.
“That was some serious quality stuff,” Barnette admitted, “and I thought maybe we were up against it tonight.”
With the way his team has been swinging the bats all season, maybe Barnette should try to relax more, because Post 2 proceeded to bat around in both the second and third innings on the way to a powerful 17-0 victory.
Morgantown (20-4) played stellar defense, and Renner was efficient and solid, surrendering just one more Grafton (3-11) baserunner the rest of the night, a leadoff single in the fourth that was immediately erased by a double play. But there’s little doubt that the sheer number of quality hitters up and down its line-up has elevated Post 2 to one of the best Legion teams in the state, and this was yet another typical mashing, bashing plate performance.
Post 2’s second inning began with Caleb Taylor’s single, and was quickly followed by four singles, a walk, a sacrifice fly and Andrew Berry’s two-out, two-RBI double.
Taylor’s second at-bat in the inning produced an RBI double, and a pair of walks and a pair of singles plated runs nine and 10.
And if Barnette somehow still held on to a smidgen of worry — and what manager doesn’t? — the next inning buried it for good, as another 11-man bat-around session scored six more, the biggest blow a gargantuan two-run blast over the fence in left center field from Taylor.
The Post 2 catcher and clean-up man had a chance for the cycle in the fourth, and lined a pitch toward the right field corner that almost got to the wall, which would’ve made for an interesting possibility — or not.
“No way I’m going for three,” Taylor said with a laugh. “No way I make it. I hit pretty well this year in high school ball (for Morgantown High), and once we put away the wooden bats, I’ve been swinging it well in Legion, too. And it’s contagious, and great that the whole line-up is going. Makes it a lot of fun for sure.”
As any starting pitcher will agree.
“When they put up big numbers like that, it really takes the pressure off,” Renner said with a grin. “I can just relax, do my thing, throw strikes, and let my defense take care of the rest. We feel really good about how we’re playing right now, and just want to keep it going.”
Barnette loved the no walk, no error performance, but also is excited about what his young team brings to the park every day.
“We’re very young,” he said, “and we’ve never carried this many freshmen before. So we’re still learning how to win, how to play the game at this level. And we’re learning about ourselves as a group. I still feel like we’re still building, and that we still have our best baseball ahead of us.”
If that’s true, maybe it’s time for the rest of the Legion managers in Area 2 and the rest of the state to start worrying.
Post 2 travels to Elkins this afternoon, then returns to Mylan Park next Tuesday for a 7 p.m. game against Area 2 rival Fairmont.