GRANVILLE, W.Va. – The West Virginia Black Bears evened the series against the Frederick Keys with a 6-5 win at Monongalia County Ballpark on Friday evening. After a quiet night on the hitting front on Thursday, the West Virginia offense came to life in game two as three Black Bears
GRANVILLE, W.Va. – The West Virginia Black Bears evened the series against the Frederick Keys with a 6-5 win at Monongalia County Ballpark on Friday evening. After a quiet night on the hitting front on Thursday, the West Virginia offense came to life in game two as three Black Bears hit home runs to overpower the Keys.
Building off Thursday night’s momentum, the Keys hit the board in the top of the first inning with a sacrifice fly from 3B Ben Fitzgerald that scored CF Amir Wright. Not easily rattled, West Virginia starting pitcher Luke Eldred finished the inning by striking out C Robert Brooks. In his second start for the Bears, the single run in the first inning was his only earned run as the Dallas Baptist University graduate gave up five runs with six strikeouts through six innings pitched.
West Virginia wasted no time scoring as 1B Logan Mathieu hit a lead-off home run in the bottom of the second inning. After tying the game, the Bears took the lead the next inning as a ground ball from RF Ruben Fontes forced an out at second but allowed SS Anthony Stehlin to score.
The Bears continued their scoring ways in the bottom of the fifth as CF Maddux Houghton sent a ball over the left field wall for the second home run of the game. Without missing a beat, Fontes followed with a two-run homer sent into the Bears bullpen in the bottom of the sixth to give West Virginia a 4-1 lead.
Frederick notched another run in the top of the seventh inning as RHP Kanan Butler walked three Keys to load the bases before allowing one run on a fourth walk. Reliever Bryce Woody entered the game and got the Bears out of a jam as he struck out Brooks to end the inning.
With a two-run lead, West Virginia added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning on a throwing error by Brooks that allowed Houghton to score. Fontes singled on a ground ball to left field in the next at-bat, bringing catcher JC Santini in from third. A groundout from DH Ryan Hernandez closed the inning as the Black Bears led 6-2.
Woody returned to the mound for West Virginia in the top of the eighth and recorded one out before he loaded the bases with two singles and a walk. After pinch hitter Evan Berkey subbed in for Keys 2B Henriadam Brower, Berkey nabbed an RBI with a single to first that drove in 1B Alex Baeza. With the bases still loaded, Frederick cut the deficit to two runs with a sac-fly to left field.
Closer Grayson Thurman then entered the game for the Bears with two outs and runners in scoring position. Thurman managed to get West Virginia out of the inning without sustaining any more damage, though the Keys cut the Black Bears lead to 6-4.
Frederick threatened once more in the top of the ninth as a throwing error put Brooks on base before a single from RF Matt Oldham brought him home, but Thurman shut the door on a Keys comeback with a strikeout as they finished the game up 6-5.
West Virginia’s offense got a much-needed push from the three home runs with Fontes, Mathieu and Houghton all finishing with two hits in four at-bats. Fontes ended his night with one run and two RBI while Mathieu and Houghton both finished with two runs and one RBI.
The Black Bears return for game three of the four-game series against the Keys on Saturday evening for Bark in the Park. Proceeds of all dog tickets will benefit Animal Friends of NCWV as the night features a “dogs-only” concession stand and a dog bandana giveaway. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.