Post 79 set to open its ’14 season

ST. MARYS -The concept of community involvement reaches new heights for the St. Marys Post 79 American Legion baseball team.

Tonight’s nine-inning affair with Ripley Post 107 at Dave Wilson Field has been designated as Community Day where more than two dozen door prizes will be raffled off at the top of each inning. Game time for Post 79’s home debut is set for 6:30 p.m.

A $2 donation not only provides each person a hot dog, chips and drink but also a chance to win a door prize ranging from a golf pass at St. Marys Golf Course, gift cards at Ace Hardware and Oops a Daisy Florist to discounts at The Pizza Station and Dominos – just to name a few. One of the player’s grandfather, Lewis Houser, is donating carved yard ornaments.

On the higher tier of giveaways are the $200 gift card from Dick’s Sporting Goods and $100 gift card from Dunham’s Sports. The winner of these two prizes will be announced in the seventh inning.

According to Post 79 head coach Wirt Cook, as many as 2,200 tickets have been sold in advance – thanks mainly to one of the player’s father, Duane Davis.

“I didn’t know how well this would go, but we were going to try it,” Cook said. “Duane has done an outstanding job selling 1,800 tickets by himself.

“That much support has been really nice. It shows we’re getting the support around the community that we’ve been wanting.”

Two local grocery stores – Galaxy Food Center and Stine’s Food Giant – have donated the food, while Wendy’s and McDonald’s have shown their support with the beverages. A friend of Cook, Mike Hupp, works for Mr. Bee Potato Chips and has supplied the chips for the game.

“It’s been nice to have all the businesses donate all this stuff and for all the people who want to help,” Cook said.

The purpose of Community Day is to help defray the cost Post 79 experiences while operating as a legion baseball team. All proceeds from today’s event will go toward paying those bills.

“For the first three years, (Post 79 general manager) Steve Tice funded this team on his own,” Cook said. “Last year for the first time, we received money from the legion. This year, it’s taken everything we’ve had just to get enough money to get this year started.

“I don’t think people realize how much it takes to run these programs. It’s not easy to do. Uniforms and umpires are the major costs.”

After splitting a doubleheader Sunday at St. Clairsville, Post 79 enters the contest at 1-1. In Game 1, Zach Heasley hit a two-run double in the fourth inning to give Post 79 a 2-0 win. Teammate Tyler Davis scattered seven singles, walked none and struck out two while throwing a complete game.

“That’s a typical outing for Tyler,” Cook said. “He never puts himself in a situation to hurt himself. The thing about that game, it never seemed close. St. Clairsville had a runner at third base and two different times had a runner second base, but every time it was with two outs.”

St. Clairsville returned the favor in the nightcap and won 17-7 in five innings.

“We played a perfect Game 1 – the defense was amazing and made no errors, and we had timely hitting but in the second game it was the opposite,” Cook said.

Robbie Harper, who started the Class A state semifinal game for St. Marys, will take to the mound for Post 79 against Ripley Post 107.

“Robbie won’t pitch the whole game because it’s too early in the year,” Cook said.