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  Elkins Post 29 American Legion Baseball

Elkins Post 29 prepares for Area 5 Tournament
July 18, 2017

From Elkins Intermountain

ELKINS — Elkins Post 29 manager Chris George is two wins away from 400 career victories, but the veteran skipper only has one thing on his mind — winning the Area 5 Tournament this week and advancing to the American Legion State Tournament.

“The bottom line is, if we don’t win the Area we don’t go to states,” George said. “We have to win the Area. That’s the number one priority. It’s one of our top goals each year. We have to win the Area to get to the state tournament. We stumbled twice this year against teams in the Area, Braxton County and Jane Lew. Hopefully the kids will rebound from that and have a good week.”

No. 1 seed Elkins Post 29 (23-15, 6-2 Area 5) is set to host No. 4 seed Jane Lew Post 166 (11-10, 3-5 Area 5) today at 5 p.m. at Robin Harvey Memorial Field in Elkins.

Following that game, No. 2 seed Buckhannon Post 7 will challenge No. 3 seed Braxton County Post 33 at 8 p.m.

The tournament is double elimination and all games will be played in Elkins.

Elkins Post 29 is the No. 1 seed in the Area 5 Tournament, coming into postseason play with a 23-15 record, including a 6-2 mark in Area 5 play.
Elkins Post 29 is the No. 1 seed in the Area 5 Tournament, coming into postseason play with a 23-15 record, including a 6-2 mark in Area 5 play.

“We’ve got to keep playing like we have been lately,” George said. “We’ve got to go in and carry the momentum from the weekend into this week. It’s important to get off to a good start. Jane Lew is a team that upset us last week and we need to rebound. We need to take a good mental approach into it and if we do that we should be fine.”

This year’s team has an overall batting average of .365. Leading the way, Sam Ross is batting .403 with 48 hits in 119 at-bats with 44 runs, 28 RBIs, 10 doubles, 4 triples, and 1 home run.

Other top players include: Brett Smith, .411 with 39 hits, 27 runs and 18 RBIs; Kyle Riggleman, .381 with 37 hits, 18 runs and 36 RBIs; Ben McDonald, .380 with 38 hits, 32 runs and 18 RBIs; Jared Kerns, .365 with 42 hits, 30 runs and 15 RBIs; Cole Harlan, .360 with 41 hits, 31 runs and 23 RBIs; and Luke Petrice, .339 with 38 hits, 37 runs and 35 RBIs.

“We’ve been a good hitting team all year,” George said. “Our pitching has also been solid. Overall it’s been a good year. We’ve just got to mentally show up and be ready to go.”

On the mound, Ben Huffman is 5-0 with a 6.68 ERA. He’s struck out 30 batters and walked 19, while giving up 43 hits and 35 runs in 31 innings pitched.

Read Schumacher is 5-1 with a 4.01 ERA. He has 32 strikeouts and 21 walks in 42.1 innings pitched. Matthew Gainer is 4-1 in 45.1 innings of work. With a 1.92 ERA, he’s struck out 46 batters and walked 10, while giving up 10 earned runs.

Adam Riggleman’s record is 2-5 in 47.2 innings pitched; however his ERA is 3.08 and he’s whiffed 54 batters while issuing 27 walks.

George took over as manager in 2004 and his overall record is 398 wins, 229 losses and 2 ties.

Along with winning the Area 5 championship every year since 2007, George and his staff also guided Post 29 to a state title in 2012 after being runner-up in both 2010 and 2011.

Over the years, he’s had a lot of help from talented assistant coaches, including: Scott Stutler, Joe Hruska and Steve Harvey from 2004-2007; Eric Lassiter and Brett Ripley in 2008-2009; Nathan Gainer and Mike Miller in 2010-2011; Adam Fansler, Spencer Webley and Joe Ross in 2012-2013; Trevor Mouser and Christian Scott in 2014-2016; and Tug Ross, Steve Howell and Owen Arbogast in 2017.

“Without those guys, it wouldn’t have been possible,” George said. “The main thing I like to do, I like having former players give back as coaches. What I’ve liked to do over the 14 years is, either former players or former college players, get a taste of coaching at the legion level with me and then they take that and they become coaches in high school and colleges after they leave here. That’s what’s been successful for our program. Not only do we develop players to get to college, we also develop coaches in this program to where they can go on and coach their own programs in high school and college.”

George said Ripley is coaching at West Virginia Wesleyan, Lassiter is coaching at a high school in Orlando, Florida, Stutler coaches at Moorefield High School, Mike Miller coaches in New Hampshire, and Gainer is an assistant coach at West Virginia State College.

“Those guys have been everything to the program,” George said. “With 400 wins, it’s a team effort. It’s not just one person, it’s a total team effort. Plus all the kids. All the former players, they’ve also been great. We’ve had some great players in the past.”

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