MORGANTOWN — When you have a lineup as potent at the plate as the Morgantown Post 2 baseball team has, it’s important to also have players that can get on base consistently ahead of the hot bats — and know their way around once they get there.
That’s where Andrew Berry comes into play.
Berry, a Morgantown High graduate who will enter his sophomore year at Potomac State, excelled at baserunning this summer during Post 2’s 27-8 campaign that earned the squad the top seed in the West Virginia Legion Baseball Area 2 tournament.
Berry sports an on-base percentage of .535. This means he gets on base a little more than half the time he bats.
He’s not the type to get left stranded or be forced out, either. He leads Post 2 in runs scored, with 42, which is 13 more than teammate Devon Neal, second in that category.
“For him to be on base over half the time is crucial to the success to the team, especially with his spot in the lineup,” Post 2 coach Tyler Barnette said. “He’s up third, and he needs to get on base for the guys hitting behind him — Caleb Taylor, Neal, Cam Stoldt — to have someone to drive home.”
Considering the stats of those three players who follow him — 111 combined RBIs — it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that they spend quite a bit of time driving Berry across home plate.
“In years past, I was needed more as the guy who drives in runs,” Berry said. “Now with guys like Caleb, Devon and Cam following me in the lineup, they all excel in that role. I just try to get on as much as possible so they can do what they do best.”
Just making it to first or second isn’t enough, though: You have to make it all the way around for it to count, and Berry can do it like few others in West Virginia.
“When it comes to base-running, I just try to do what my coaches for Post 2 and Potomac State have taught me,” he said. “They teach me situations to be aggressive, and ones where I should stay more conservative.”
Berry describes his speed as “average to below average,” and has spent time crafting his baserunning IQ to maximize his talent. These days, it’s a point of pride.
“I take pride in being a smart baserunner. I also need to run as smart as possible to make up for lost speed,” he said. “This can be anything from getting good reads on balls in the dirt to watching the other team’s outfielder and gauging their arm strength — just so I can know whether or not to push for an extra base.”
Barnette knows what to expect from Berry by now. He gets excited when Berry steps up to the plate. The owner of a .370 batting average, Berry has also been walked 29 times and hit by 11 pitches. One way or another, he’s going to get on base. And everyone in the dugout knows what’s likely to happen then.
“Even if he doesn’t hit the ball … whatever he has to do get on base, he’s going to do it,” Barnette said. “Once he’s on, he’s scored 42 runs — he’s clearly making good baserunning decisions and letting the guys behind him drive him home.”
For the perfect example, you need look no further than Thursday’s opening round action of the Area 2 tournament, in Bridgeport. Berry went just 1-for-5 but scored two runs. He also had three RBIs, contributing to five runs total in Post 2’s 13-3 rout of Clarksburg.
“He had a couple of good shots. He was 1-for-5, but you have to look at the three RBIs and two runs scored,” Barnette said. “You can’t say that’s a bad day.”
Berry and Post 2 will return to the diamond at 5 p.m. July 28, to battle fellow first-round victor Fairmont. The winner will advance to the finals Sunday, while the loser has to stay on the diamond to face the Clarksburg or Bridgeport, at 7:30 p.m.
The loser there goes home and the winner advances to Sunday.