Hard-Hitting Bears Split Series
AUBURN, N.Y. - After a two-day long All-Star Break in the New-York Penn League, the West Virginia Black Bears hopped back on the road to take on the Auburn Doubledays at Falcon Park. With four games played in three days, West Virginia split the series with Auburn as they dropped the first and final games of the series.
The Black Bears remain a half game behind the Batavia Muckdogs in the Pinckney Division due to a Muckdogs loss at home to the State College Spikes on Saturday evening.
In their first game back after the break, the Black Bears lost game one of the series to the Doubledays 5-2 on Thursday evening.
The home team wasted no time taking advantage of the Black Bears' defense as Auburn tacked on three runs in the bottom of the first inning. The first inning would be the most productive for Auburn due to a fielding error by 3B Dean Lockery and a throwing error by 2B Cory Wood. In his 10th start of the season, RHP Mike Burrows battled through the first as he nearly faced the entire Doubledays lineup. After seven batters and almost 30 pitches, Burrows closed the inning with a strikeout.
West Virginia found their way onto the scoreboard after a balk by pitcher Eddy Yean scored LF Matt Gorski and advanced Wood to third. However, the Bears ended the inning with three straight strikeouts and no more runs scored.
Auburn struck back with a homerun off Burrows in the bottom of the fourth. With a full-count and a man on second base, Landerson Pena's two-run homer gave the Doubledays a 5-1 lead.
Though the Black Bears scored on a single off the bat of RF Matt Fraizer in the top of the fifth inning, West Virginia was unable to spark its offense the remainder of the game and lost 5-2.
RHP Denny Roman provided 2.2 innings of excellent relief as he allowed only one hit and recorded four strikeouts. The Mexico native has appeared in 14 games this season with two wins and no losses.
The second game of the series was also the first game of a doubleheader that made up for a postponed game on July 22. Led by a shut-out performance by RHP Austin Roberts, West Virginia blew past Auburn in a dominant 8-1 win over seven innings.
In an effort to avoid a repeat of game one, the Black Bears' offense bounded aggresively into the second game. A crushed fly ball that breached the center field wall from DH Fernando Villegas put West Virginia up 1-0 in the top of the third inning.
Then in the fourth, LF Blake Sabol scored on a groundout up the middle by 2B Cory Wood to add to the Black Bears lead. A ground ball chopped to center field by 1B Will Matthiessen brought home C Kyle Wilkie and RF Matt Fraizer to give Matthiessen an RBI single and the Bears a 4-0 lead.
West Virginia continued its assault on Auburn the next inning when a triple driven deep into center field by Sabol scored 3B Jared Triolo. The California rookie then found his way home when a fielding error by Doubledays short stop, Jose Sanchez, put CF Matt Gorski on first and the Black Bears ahead by six runs.
Though Auburn scored once in the sixth inning, a pair of West Virginia singles from Fraizer and Wood in the top of the seventh extended the Bears' lead, and the team recorded their first win of the series.
Pitcher Austin Roberts continued to build on his winning record with his second of the year. Roberts, who allowed seven hits, blanked the Doubledays over five innings for a 2.91 ERA this season. The 21-year-old from West Sacramento, Calif., has won his last two starts and has pitched 10 innings with only one earned run allowed. Coming out of the bullpen, LHP Trey McGough held the home team to only one hit and one run over the remaining two innings in his seventh appearance with the Black Bears.
West Virginia continued to test its ability to play from behind with a 6-5 comeback victory in the second game of the doubleheader. Like the first, the second game featured a shortened seven innings of play.
The Black Bears put up the first run of the game in the top of the second inning when LF Fernando Villegas tripled to right field to score DH Brendt Citta. Citta, who reached on a single, scored two of West Virginia's six runs that evening and went 2-for-3 at the plate. Following his triple, Villegas scored on a balk called on LHP Gilberto Chu to give the Bears a two-run lead entering the home half.
Auburn responded with five runs over the fourth and fifth innings with one coming from an error by 3B Jared Triolo in the bottom of the fourth.
No stranger to playing from a deficit, West Virginia dug in and came out swinging in the sixth inning. SS Victor Ngoepe connected on the second offering from Auburn reliever Rafael Gomez to reach first base. Ngoepe entered the game as a defensive substitution for starting SS Ethan Paul following an injury on a failed steal. CF Matt Gorski grounded hard into left field to bring Ngoepe home and cut the lead to 5-3.
Citta drove in his second run of the night with a fly ball double that scored RF Blake Sabol and Gorski to knot the game up at five runs each. Then with two out and Citta in scoring position, 2B Cory Wood shot a sharp ground ball to center field to bring in the go-ahead run.
Fresh off his All-Star Game appearance, RHP Cameron Junker demonstrated all-star caliber ability when he entered the game in the bottom of the sixth. Over two innings, Junker saw and retired all six batters and recorded four strikeouts, including the last three batters of the final inning. Junker, a 10th round draft pick from Cincinnati, Ohio, notched his fifth save of the season with his perfect performance in the 6-5 win.
After an impressive doubleheader sweep at Falcon Park on Friday, the Black Bears struggled to score in the final game of the series as they lost to the Doubledays 6-2.
It took only two innings and three hits for Auburn to begin their crusade to even the series. After loading the bases, RHP Jesus Valles allowed one long homerun straight into right field. The grand slam gave the Doubledays a 4-0 lead going into the third inning.
West Virginia took advantage of a wild pitch that struck out 3B Jared Triolo and scored Villegas in the top of the sixth to cut the lead 4-1. But two errors in the bottom of the eighth on reliever Xavier Concepcion extended the Doubledays' lead over the Black Bears to five runs.
While a line-drive single to center field by RF Matt Fraizer plated Triolo, the Bears were unable to overcome the deficit for a second time in two days and dropped the last game of the series.
Following the dynamic 14-run day on Friday, the Black Bears recorded only six hits over nine innings in Saturday's 6-2 loss. Valles also took his second loss of the season with four hits and four runs - all earned - over six innings of work.
The Black Bears continue their road trip at State College as they take on the Spikes in a three-game series beginning Sunday, August 25. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. West Virginia returns home for the last home series of the regular season on Wednesday, August 28. For information and tickets, please visit www.westvirginiablackbears.com.
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