by Jesse Skiles
CLARKSBURG - What a difference a year makes.
After struggling through the Summer of 2002, playing .200 baseball, Clarksburg Post 13 served notice Thursday night that 2003 is definitely a different group, defeating a deep and talented Buckhannon Post 77 squad, 4-1.
Playing with mostly players from the RCB and Notre Dame programs (two excellent squads that each topped 20-wins in the recently completed high school seasons), Post 13 is a team loaded with arms...a trait that was showcased in earnest in Thursday night. Buckhannon only managed one hit and struck out 13 times against the trio of Matt Lewis (four innings), Tyler Musgrave (three innings), and Frankie Sutton (two innings).
After giving up a game-opening double to the athletic Adam Kelley, Lewis mowed through the lineup, racking up eight strikeouts in his short, 54-pitch stint.
"I was pretty comfortable out there actually. All of my pitches were working and I was hitting the corners. It was a lot of fun," Lewis said.
While Kelley scored the only Buckhannon run in the opening frame, Clarksburg scored three of their four runs in the first inning as well. Heath Knotts opened with a single, Justin Starkey reached by error, and Chris Lake walked. Three runs would eventually score after a Buckhannon passed ball, a Matt Lewis fielder's choice, and a Josh Johnson single.
Knotts would score the game's final run in the seventh; walking, stealing second, advancing to third on a grounder, and racing home on a wild pitch. Despite reaching base three times, and scoring twice, Knotts' diving stab of a Rusty Wright grounder in the sixth, which led to a sizzling 4-6-3 double play may have been the play of the night. Coupled with two diving outfield catches by rightfielder Mike Yost, there is also a healthy dose of defense to complement the Post 13 pitching.
"The defense was sharp tonight, particularly in the middle infield. When we can get that kind of play, and have our pitchers on like this, we can be effective. We were a little tentative at the palte tonight, but hopefully that will work out after we get a few games in," Post 13 Coach Butch Sutton said.
With fireballers Chris Lake and Justin Starkey fresh for the weekend, the three-pitcher gem on Thursday was just what Sutton's troops needed. Post 13 will be on the road to Moundsville this weekend, playing five games in a three-day span.