Post 15 pitchers look to carry success into postseason

Published 12:30 pm Wednesday, July 8, 2015

CONTRIBUTED TEAM PLAYERS: The Beaufort County Post 15 Junior American Legion team poses for a team picture following a game at historic Fleming Stadium in Wilson last month.

TEAM PLAYERS: The Beaufort County Post 15 Junior American Legion team poses for a team picture following a game at historic Fleming Stadium in Wilson last month.

MANTEO — It was supposed to be a regular season full of growing pains, chemistry building and mediocre baseball. For Post 15, the first Junior American Legion baseball team in Beaufort County since 2008, the beginning of the season was painted with the unknown. For the coaching staff, expectations of any kind did not exist.

But that was short-lived.

It wasn’t long until before bits and pieces from the county’s five high schools — only one of which finished above .500 (Terra Ceia) — came together to produce what would eventually mold into the area’s most competitive baseball team.

“I didn’t know what to expect to be honest with you,” said head coach Glenn Marsh. “There were a number of players (in the county) I had heard about but was unfamiliar with. This season could not have gone any better. From Day 1, they meshed well and bought into what we were trying to accomplish — a one-team, one-game, one-pitch approach. And they did. They got their confidence right from the beginning, rallied and stayed together.”

Marsh and the coaching staff realized halfway into the season that capturing the No. 1 seed and an Area 1 championship was hardly out of reach. And once that expectation was established, the Pirates never looked back.

Last week, with a win over Perquimans, Beaufort County locked up the top seed in this week’s Area 1 tournament, which kicks off today at Manteo High School. The Pirates begin with the host Dare County (No. 8 seed), a team they beat twice in the regular season, but needed an extra inning of baseball to beat the second time around.

Marsh has rallied a team of individuals representing five high schools around a single cause — to put Beaufort County baseball back on the map. And so far, it’s paid off, as the players have rallied around their coach and a strong pitching staff.

‘The kids love him,” said team manager Kevin Cutler. “I believe Glenn can coach these kids to do anything. They love him, play for him, get in line behind him because he’s a great leader. He’s always positive with him and he knows the game of baseball.”

The team’s lineup features a collection of .300-plus hitters, including Washington’s Tripp Barfield (.387), Northside’s Brantley Cutler (.364) and Pungo’s Kellum Cahoon (.346), but the real key to the team’s success has been on the rubber, where the eight pitchers have posted a combined 3.16 team ERA.

Headlining the rotation has been Terra Ceia’s Austin Roscoe, who boasts a team-second-best 1.83 ERA and a team-best 24 strikeouts in 30.2 innings pitched. The defending Washington Daily News Baseball Player of the Year’s success at the high school level has clearly carried over into the summer, even earning a WITN Player of the Week nod on Tuesday. Roscoe may be the ace, but the Pirates wouldn’t be where they are without a strong supporting cast.

Barfield, the Pam Pack’s projected No. 1 guy next season, has recorded a 2.69 ERA in 28.2 innings as Post 15’s No. 2, while guys like Brantley Cutler, Cody Godley and Chase Sauls have provided valuable innings in relief.

Post 15 will look to ride its pitching staff into the double-elimination-style tournament, where the focus will be mirroring the regular season success by finishing with a tournament championship. And the odds are in their favor, as the Pirates have yet to lose two games in a row this season.

“We’ve always bounced back after a loss,” Marsh said. “We’ve got five losses throughout the year and four of them were by one run. They’ve responded throughout the year with a quality effort. I couldn’t be more proud of them. They have exceeded everybody’s expectations.”

The team has spent the week participating in light fielding, batting practice and bullpen sessions in preparation for the tournament. The goal is to stay fresh and mentally poised, as the road to the championship requires four-straight days of baseball in temperatures expected to exceed 95 degrees. Staying in the winners bracket is now priority No. 1.

“The only way this season was going to work and be successful was if they realized they were playing for Beaufort County and the whole area,” Marsh said. “They bought into that concept right from the beginning. Yes, you represent your school and that’s very important. You represent your families, but now you’re playing for your county.”

First pitch for today’s game against Dare County is scheduled for 2 p.m.