Black Bears Batters Bury Batavia
BATAVIA, N.Y. - In a crucial road series against the top team in the division, the West Virginia Black Bears offense overpowered the Batavia Muckdogs in the last two games the series. Going into the three-game set, the Black Bears trailed the Muckdogs 1.5 games in the Pinckney Division.
With the series win, West Virginia cuts the division lead to just half a game and takes sole possession of the Wild Card with 15 games left to play in the regular season.
Heading into the first game of the series, the Black Bears prepared to take on the heavy-hitting Muckdogs offense. After a slow start, West Virginia dropped game one to Batavia 11-5.
In the first inning, an RBI double that sailed over LF Matt Gorski's head put Batavia on the board. After three scoreless innings, West Virginia responded in the top of the fourth. After loading the bases, 3B Jared Triolo smashed a double to center field that almost cleared the outfield wall. West Virginia would score 2B Victor Ngoepe, Gorski and CF Brett Kinneman to take a 3-1 lead.
But Batavia clapped back with a homerun off starting pitcher J.C. Flowers that towered over the left field wall. The right-handed pitcher from Florida State had kept the dangerous Muckdogs to one run until giving up the homer in the bottom of the fourth.
The Muckdogs maintained their comeback energy into the fifth inning as the entire order came to bat against RHP Jacob Webb. Webb, who struggled on the mound, allowed four runs in the fifth, including one on a wild pitch that put the Muckdogs up 6-3. RHP Garrett Leonard relieved Webb after only one-third innings, and he retired the remaining two hitters with no further damage. A wild pitch by Leonard in the bottom of the sixth would plate another run, while Batavia batters took advantage of the inconsistent pitching to score two more.
The Muckdogs continued to control the pace of the game as they scored two more runs in the bottom of the eighth to take an 11-3 lead. Despite an RBI single by RF Matt Fraizer that brought home two in the top of the ninth inning, Batavia shut down West Virginia's offense and ended the game with an 11-5 win.
One West Virginia highlight was 2019 NYPL All-Star, Jared Triolo, who notched the first five-hit game of his professional career. Triolo, who is listed as one of the Pirates Top 30 Prospects, leads the team in nearly every batting statistic and is tied for third for the most doubles in the NY-Penn League.
After dropping the first game of the series, West Virginia staged one of their best all-around games of the season. Lead by a high-powered offense with 15 hits on the night, the Black Bears bounced back to take game two by a score of 10-4.
In the top of the second inning, West Virginia began their campaign with a pair of doubles from Brett Kinneman and Elys Escobar that gave the Black Bears a 2-0 lead.
Although the Muckdogs would score on a wild pitch by starting pitcher Mike Burrows in the home half, the Bears came back to capitalize on Batavia's mistakes in the top of the third inning. After fielding errors on second base and center field, Kinneman scored his second run of the night to give the Black Bears a five-run lead. A wild pitch by Muckdogs lefty Jonaiker Villalobos brought in Escobar, and Batavia would enter the bottom of the inning down 7-1.
Kinneman drove in another Black Bears run in the top of the fifth, while Jared Triolo plated Kinneman on a sacrifice fly to right field to give West Virginia a 9-1 lead. Another single by Will Matthiessen shot hard to center tacked on one more insurance run in the top of the eighth inning.
Though the Muckdogs braced for another comeback performance, they were unable to score more than four runs off the Black Bears bullpen. Strong outings from relievers Francis Del Orbe, Trey McGough and 2019 NYPL All-Star Cameron Junker silenced Batavia's lineup and allowed only one run in a combined 4.2 innings. West Virginia closed the game with only four runs allowed on nine hits to win 10-4.
In the rubber match of the series, the Black Bears continued their hot streak at Dwyer Stadium. The team connected for 15 hits for the second consecutive game with all nine batters recording at least one. West Virginia went on to beat Batavia 9-3 and cut the division race to half a game.
While a walk in the top of the second inning put West Virginia on the board, the Black Bears roared to life in the fourth. LF Fernando Villegas got things started with a double smashed to center field that brought in 1B Brendt Citta. Kinneman then connected with the third pitch from Muckdogs LHP Julio Frias to score Villegas.
SS Ethan Paul added his seventh double of the season on a line drive to left field that scored Kinneman and put the Bears up four runs. C Kyle Wilkie - who had an impressive four-for-five night at-bat - found first base once again on an RBI single grounded to the shortstop that brought home Paul. With that, West Virginia took a 5-0 lead heading into the home half of the inning.
Batavia struck back with a solo homerun in the bottom of the fifth, but the Black Bears were able to close the inning after retiring three consecutive batters. The Muckdogs managed to bring in two more runs in the sixth and seventh but were held to just four hits over the last four innings by reliever Bear Bellomy.
West Virginia continued to bear down in the eighth inning as they scored another three runs off a three-run double crushed deep into left field by Villegas. The three runs batted in by the Mexico native padded the Black Bears lead, and West Virginia would win the game 9-3.
In his best start of the season, starting pitcher Austin Roberts threw a flawless three innings, with his first hit allowed in the bottom of the fourth and the only run allowed in the fifth. Roberts' seven strikeouts through four innings propelled the Black Bears defense to one of its strongest performances of the season and gave him the first win of his professional career. Bellomy recorded his second save as he allowed only two runs in four innings.
The Black Bears return home for a three-game series against the Williamsport Crosscutters beginning on Saturday, August 17 at 7:05 p.m. Home stand promotions over the weekend include Fan Appreciation Night on Saturday and the Team Photo Giveaway on Sunday, August 18 presented by Fairmont State University (first pitch at 1:05 p.m.). For more information on the schedule or promotions, visit www.westvirginiablackbears.com.
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