Post 91 comes up short at state tourney
KEYSER — The festivities began for the 2019 American Legion state tournament last week with a banquet on Tuesday night at Potomac State with former MLB pitcher Aaron Laffey offering words of advice to the players in attendance, “Make your dreams your reality.”
Romney had dreams of winning their first state championship, and certainly had the talent to do so, however, after a series of unfortunate breaks, Post 91’s dreams ended up as such, just dreams.
“From a coaches standpoint, it was definitely a little disappointing,” said Romney Head Coach Josh Crawford.
“This team didn’t deserve to go out in the way we did. The baseball gods just weren’t on our side.”
Rain postponed Romney’s opening game with Wheeling Post 1 to Thursday morning and midway thru the 2nd inning, everything looked good for Post 91 as they jumped out to an early 2-0 lead.
However, in the bottom of the 2nd, Wheeling turned the tables scoring 6 runs en route to a 7-3 victory.
“When we came out and scored three runs right away I thought we were in the driver’s seat, but they got a few bloop hits and a couple of ground balls hit in the perfect spot,” explained Crawford.
“We didn’t help ourselves offensively, which is really the reason for the loss.”
Facing elimination Romney regrouped and came back with a vengeance knocking off South Charleston 2-1 behind the gritty performance of Zack Whitacre on the mound with his brother Brady catching behind the plate.
Coach Crawford commented on Zack’s courageous performance.
“Zack showed how tough he was by battling leg cramps the entire game on the mound. Between each inning he would have to be stretched out and massaged, if not he wouldn’t have been able to walk, let alone pitch. The team played behind him like we’ve done all season.”
Romney’s big win over South Charleston was arguably the best win of Crawford’s coaching career, however, Josh was more focused on the teams excellent performance led by the unique brother-brother Whitacre combination.
“It’s definitely a sad moment, because that’s the last time that we’ll have the Whitacre battery.”
Zack tossed a complete game going 7 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 1 and walking zero.
At the plate Zack smacked a hit and scored a run. In addition, Justin “Chops” Stone, Tobin Cain, Morgan Little, and Tristan Everett each chalked up a hit in a winning effort.
Staving off elimination, Romney moved on to play their arch nemesis from Area 4, Berkeley Post 14.
Berkeley lost their opening match with South Charleston, but knocked off Elkins in the following game to remain alive.
With 1 loss on the record for both Romney and Berkeley, it was win or go home.
With Eli Hott on the rubber, Post 91 sprung to a 3-1 lead entering the 4th inning but the game incurred a long delay as lightning was spotted off in the distance. The stall in action killed the momentum for Romney and Berkeley took advantage once play was resumed.
Post 14 went on to score 6 unanswered runs with 2 in the 4th, 3 in the 5th, and 1 in the 6th to win the game 7-3 and officially end the dreams of a Romney state championship.
“Things just didn’t go our way against Berkeley. We made a few costly errors, and had to deal with lightning delays when we had momentum. We hit some balls hard right at guys, and they had some balls fall in holes,” said Crawford.
Berkeley’s Taylor Tennant tossed 6.2 innings, allowing 3 runs on 8 hits in a winning effort.
With the victory, Berkeley moved into the title game where they knocked off an undefeated Morgantown team to setup a winner-take-all game on Sunday afternoon.
After a valiant effort Berkeley came up 1 run short in extra innings as a wild pitch sent the winning run and the championship to Morgantown.
Officially Wheeling Post 1 took home 3rd and Romney finished in 4th place with an overall season record of (29-10).
Crawford was emotional after the tough loss to Berkeley, but fought back tears when looking back at the accomplishments of this Post 91 team.
“This was a fantastic season, which ended a little premature for us. Next year we are losing a handful of guys, including our entire outfield. There will definitely be some new faces in the lineup, but I can assure you that we’ll find guys who battle every single inning.” o