WHEELING - South Charleston Post 94 opened the 2012 West Virginia American Legion State Baseball Tournament the same way it ended the previous three - with a victory.
South Charleston jumped out for three first-inning runs and starting pitcher Daniel Ramsey made it hold up with a nasty curveball in a 5-2 victory against Moundsville Post 3 on Wednesday at the I-470 Complex.
With the loss, Moundsville heads to the elimination bracket with an 11 a.m. game today against Berkeley, a 16-11 loser against Elkins in Wednesday's middle game.
Moundsville’s Ryan Hughes beats the rap at first base as South Charleston’s Evan Oyler awaits a throw during action of their game Wednesday in the W.Va. State American Legion Tournament.
''There wasn't much there cause we couldn't hit or do much else,'' Moundsville manager Bill Burkett said. ''(Ramsey) had the curveball and we couldn't hit the curve. Not too many kids can. If a pitcher has a curve and a fastball, he can go anyplace to you in this tournament''
Ramsey went seven innings, allowing four hits and striking out three. His only blemish was an RBI single by Jake Lucas, today's starting pitcher, in the third inning that scored Jimmy Henderson.
Reese Ripley started the game with a single up the middle and was driven home three pitches later by an RBI triple from Josh Kiser.
Jordan Simpson drove in two runs with a single later in the inning and South Charleston was cruising.
''Usually we start off slow and then get hot in the later innings,'' South Charleston manager Dave Potter said. ''We just finished playing Sunday and we've had a lot of games. Batting is rhythm and they just got in a good rhythm and hit the ball well.''
Ramsey sat down Moundsville in order in the bottom of the first.
After Moundsville scored its only run off Ramsey, Jordan Banks gave Post 94 a little insurance with a two-run shot over the right-field fence for a 5-1 lead in the fifth. Justin Hunt, who scored on the homer, initially struck out but reached when the ball got away from catcher Mark Walker.
Simpson came on to relieve Ramsey in the eighth and was greeted by a leadoff double from Todd Schmidt. Schmidt later scored on an RBI single from Tanner Hanna but that was all Post 3 could manage.
Henderson led off the ninth with an infield single but Simpson struck out three of the next four batters, Shane Wellman, who represented the tying run, looking to end the game.
''It's a win and although we were a little sloppy running the bases, we got good pitching,'' Potter said. ''We got out of some jams and that is typical of the first game of the state tournament.
''You have to keep good-hitting teams off balance and that's what (Ramsey) did. This was real important cause you don't want to get into the loser's bracket right away. Then you will need a lot of pitching so you have to win that first game to keep your rotation in tact.''
South Charleston plays Wheeling at 3 p.m. today.
Moundsville had to battle back to beat Wheeling twice in the Area One Tournament, so the team has some heart. But this appears to be an even bigger uphill climb for Post 3.
''You are down but we can come back if we hit the ball and the pitching stays steady,'' Burkett said.