If West Fairmont’s baseball team has any thoughts of overlooking North Marion, the Polar Bears might want to refer back to last year’s sectional opener in Rachel.

It was there that the Huskies pulled one of the season’s biggest upsets with a 6-5 series-opening victory behind the pitching of Corey Quirk, who threw a five-hitter.

West scored four runs in the first inning, only to squander the lead and the game in the end.

From that point on, the Polar Bears didn’t lose again until the Class AAA state championship game.

On the road to Charleston, which begins today for teams across the state, West (16-10) would like to start off just a little bit differently than a year ago.

“It’s hard to tell what goes through a kid’s mind,” West head coach Steve Naternicola said. “It all depends on which team shows up for us.”

West swept the regular-season series, winning 11-1 in six innings at Mary Lou Retton Park and 11-2 in Rachel.

While the Polar Bears enter the postseason on a four-game losing streak, the Tom Myers’ Huskies aren’t exactly clicking on all cylinders, either.

North Marion (6-13) has dropped five of six games heading into today’s 6:30 p.m. contest.

“West is a very good team,” Myers said following an 11-2 loss in the latest meeting. “We took them seven innings and that’s a positive for us.

“We’re a healthy team right now. We’ll have our pitchers rested up. And if we can get some timely hits and solid defense, anything can happen.”

The Polar Bears have endured a roller coaster ride of a season so far.

Some games the pitching is there; others it is not. The same goes with the offense as well as the defense, which has struggled at times.

But these are things Naternicola and Co. are well aware of right now. It’s just a matter of peaking at the right time.

“I told the kids from here on out that we can’t afford to make errors and give up walks,” Naternicola said after playing Jefferson this past weekend, “because they will come back to haunt us. We’re not going to have that.”

Naternicola also stressed that North Marion had no intention of handing the game over to West. His Polar Bears have to earn wins just as the Huskies do.

“Just because we beat a team once doesn’t mean they’re just going to roll over for us,” Naternicola said. “They see the two-time NCAC champ the last two years and three-time state runner-up. So teams are gunning for us.”

But when Buckhannon beat Morgantown for a second time this season last week, the Polar Bears and Mohigans ended up sharing this year’s NCAC championship, a third year in a row for West.

Will a fifth consecutive sectional title follow?

Two or three games from now and West will have answered that question.

North Marion, on the other hand, has other plans.

E-mail Andrew Manzo at dmanzo@timeswv.com.

Recommended for you