MORGANTOWN – Six teams will begin American Legion state tourney play today at West Virginia University’s Hawley Field.
The tourney will signify an ending to Hawley Field, the home for WVU and Morgantown Post 2 baseball teams since 1971, as the facility will be replaced next season by a new $21 million Monongalia County Ballpark being constructed at the University Town Centre.
Before the historic field closes, however, Elkins, Potomac Valley, Morgantown, Fairmont, Wheeling and South Charleston will do battle to crown a champion who will represent the state in the Mid-Atlantic National Regional Tourney that begins Aug. 7 at Brooklawn, N.J.
The double-elimination event gets underway at noon, as Elkins battles South Charleston.
At 3:30 p.m., Fairmont will face Wheeling, followed by host team Morgantown against Potomac Valley at 8 p.m.
Post 29 (31-8) went 4-4 against teams in the field, defeating Potomac Valley three times and splitting with Fairmont. It lost both games against Morgantown and a single matchup with today’s opponent South Charleston.
Al Johnson and Colby Gainer lead Elkins at the plate. Johnson is batting a team-high .448, while Gainer is hitting at a .441 clip, tops the squad in RBIs with 43 and is tied with Chance Price in homers with three.
Lead-off man Daniel Crawford is also batting nearly .400 with 10 stolen bases and 34 runs scored.
Price, Doug Smith and Kevin McDermott are others hitting over .300 at the plate.
The pitching staff is anchored by Isaac Riggleman, Gainer and Tyler Scott.
Riggleman, who has signed to play at Davis &?Elkins College, has compiled a mark of 6-1 with an ERA of 3.78 and 52 strikeouts.
Gainer is 4-1 on the year, with 35 strikeouts and a 4.67 ERA, while Scott is 5-0 in 31 innings pitched with 23 strikeouts.
Price, Owen Arbogast, Silas Gibson, Brandon Hamons and Jared Kerns are other capable starters or relievers.
The remainder of the roster includes Sean Curtis, Wes Felton, Dylan Harris, P.J. Lanham, Jacob Marsh, Chris Neville, Sam Ross, Tyler Shreve and Jake Wyatt.
Chris George is the team manager and will be assisted by Trevor Mouser, Shane Snyder and Christian Scott.
Elkins defeated South Charleston to win the title in 2012.
Post 94, the defending state champion, enters the tournament with a 36-2 mark.
South Charleston, which is playing in its 14th straight state tournament, edged the West Virginia Power, 7-6, in the Area 3 title game on Ryan McDonough’s RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning.