Bears Secure Opening Series with 8-4 Win over Keys


GRANVILLE, W.Va. - The West Virginia Black Bears pulled together for an 8-4 comeback win to secure the series over the Frederick Keys on Thursday evening at Kendrick Family Ballpark. West Virginia delivered eight unanswered runs in two innings to take the game from Frederick.

It was a slow start until the top of the second, when Keys’ Allan Gil-Fernandez hit a double that was lost in the sun by Bears’ center fielder Brody Black. Designated hitter Kaden Moller advanced to third on the play, while another walk loaded the bases. But Bears’ starting pitcher Ryan Spalliero dialed in to erase the bases as he secured a ground out to first.

In the top of the third, an RBI single for Ervin Escobar scored Zach Samayoa, but West Virginia’s first baseman Lucas Ismali fielded a ground out to hold Frederick at bay. The fourth inning brought in another run for the Keys on a single by center fielder Irvin Weems III that scored Tervell Johnson. Heading into the home half, the Bears trailed 3-0.

West Virginia finally ended its scoring drought in the bottom of the inning. Third baseman Dariel Osoria sent a ball deep to right field for a single that put him on third after a fielding error on Weems. With a runner in scoring position, Beny Bikar, Jr. sent a chopper to right field to score Osoria for the first Black Bears run of the game.

Sempa Shawali Sherican replaced Keys’ starter Justin Needles in the bottom of the fifth following another run driven in by Bikar. The recent high school graduate singled on a ground ball back to the mound to score Osoria for the second time. With two on, left fielder Jarrett Ford was struck with a ball, loading the bases with one out. The next at-bat, Dalton Wentz sent a ball deep to left field, plating Brody Black and Bikar with two players still in scoring position. In the short span it took to tie the game at three, designated hitter Joey Spence singled on an 0-2 pitch to bring home Ford and Wentz ad give the Bears their first lead of the game. Entering the fifth, West Virginia led Frederick by a score of 5-3.

The Black Bears added three insurance runs in the fifth to take a five-run lead. Sheridan struggled in his second inning of work, walking three consecutive batters before sending home Black on a hit-by-pitch. Frederick reliever Joe Zhu took the mound for Sherican with three on and no outs. Another walk sent home catcher Mauricio Millan for the seventh Black Bears’ run, while a balk scored Osoria two batters later. Zhu finally ended the long inning on a ground out to first, but not before the Bears took a commanding 8-3 lead.

With the game on the line, Johnson scored on a catching error by Mllan to shorten the Bears lead to four runs in the top of the sixth. But West Virginia could not be caught, and reliever Storm Hierholzer entered in the seventh to close the game. After recording four strikeouts through his first two innings, Hierholzer ended the game on a strikeout in the top of the ninth.

In a repeat of Wednesday’s performance, West Virginia picked up the win after trailing early in the game. Lance Hartley, the right-handed pitcher from Cameron, West Virginia, recorded the win after throwing three frames with three strikeouts. Storm Hierholzer, the right-handed pitcher from Texas Christian University (TCU), led the bullpen with six strikeouts in the final three innings, earning his first save. High school prospects Dalton Wentz and Beny Bikar, Jr., and Notre Dame catcher Joey Spence shined at the plate for the Black Bears in the 8-4 win, with all three recording one hit and two RBI. In addition to his RBIs, Wentz, the former Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year for Virginia, hit the game-tying double in the fourth.

West Virginia heads to Happy Valley for its first road series of the season against the State College Spikes beginning Friday, June 7, before traveling to Williamsport to play the Crosscutters. The Black Bears return to Kendrick Family Ballpark on Friday, June 14, for the first Friday Night Fireworks game of the season presented by Summit Bank. First pitch is set for 7:00 p.m. For information on upcoming promotions, please visit our Promotions Page.