Morgantown set to face Wheeling Park in Class AAA Region I regional baseball tournament

MORGANTOWN — For the third-straight year, Morgantown and Wheeling Park will meet for the Region I baseball championship with a berth in the state tournament on the line, and this season will be the rubber-match.
Two years ago, the Mohigans headed to Charleston for the first time in 41 years before losing in the state semifinals. Last year, the Patriots got their payback and headed to the state tournament but lost to Hurricane in the championship game.
“They’re a good team that plays good baseball, and they make you play your best every time or else you won’t beat them,” MHS shortstop Quintin Smith said. “It does seem that we play them every year. It’s going to be like that when you have two of the best teams in the state playing for a trip to Charleston every year.”
Under first-year coach Steve Myers, Wheeling Park had its fair share of ups and downs. At 18-8, the Patriots dominated their section as the No. 1 seed, beating Brooke 7-3 and then beating John Marshall by the same score.
But of their eight losses, two were to Morgantown — 8-1 on April 5 and 4-3 on April 24.
“I think they’re a very quality ball team,” Myers said of the Mohigans. “They have a very good lineup and some power in their lineup. We did play them well last time we played, but we need to give them our best offense series.”
Game 1 is set for 5 p.m. today at Mylan Park, while Game 2 will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Wheeling Park and if necessary, Game 3 will be back at Mylan Park at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
While MHS (27-5) boasts a high-powered offense that hammered 29 home runs, including a school record 11 from Smith, Wheeling Park is more balanced, according to Myers. The Patriots have only hit two home runs this season, but they will try anything to push a run across, whether it’s small-ball or stringing together hits.
Leadoff hitter Jacob Shia is the sparkplug that gets the offense going, hitting .375 with a .528 on-base percentage.
“When Jacob Shia does well, we’ve done well,” Myers said. “When he can get on base, our offense has done a pretty good job of getting him home.”
Myers mentioned, though, that the offense doesn’t rely on just one batter and it’s been a balanced effort to drive in runs. Ben Taylor, James Salvatori, Nolan Mattern and Trevor Thomas each has over 20 RBIs — Mattern leads the team with 28.
On the mound, expect Isaac Hines to get the starting nod today. He has an ERA of 1.16 in 36 innings and has 28 strikeouts to just six walks.
“Hines has a good fastball with good command,” Myers said. “He’s very cool on the mound and understands the game and keeps his composure. He’ll throw different pitches and understands the situation. He’s a good learner and student of the game.”

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