West Virginia takes series against State College in back-and-forth affair


GRANVILLE W. Va. – The West Virginia Black Bears took a back-and-forth final game of a three-game set with the State College Spikes 8-7 on Sunday. Jack O’Dowd connected on a bloop single down the left-field line in the seventh inning, scoring Roman Kuntz and giving the Bears a lead they would not relinquish.

In the bottom of the first, Brody Black soaked up a hit-by-pitch, then came around to score on an error to give West Virginia an early run. But the Spikes came back with runs in the second and third to take a one-run lead. Braylon West scored on a double steal in the second, and Samuel Benjamin trotted home on a bases-loaded walk from West.

The momentum began to shift in the fourth as the Black Bears put up a five-spot to regain the lead. Kuntz and DH Ryan Grabosch connected on back-to-back singles to lead off the frame. Shortstop Dalton Wentz then walked to load the bases, followed by an RBI walk from Josiah Chavez. Jarrett Ford drove in two in the next at-bat with a single. Black roped a two-bagger to score Ford for a 6-2 lead.

State College responded instantly with two runs in the fifth. Blake Wilson drove in center fielder Sam Erickson with a base-knock, then trotted home on the Spikes’ second double-steal of the game.

In the sixth, the Spikes tied up the contest when Carson Luna smacked a bases-loaded double, scoring third baseman Deniel Ortiz and West. Trayson Hughes parked a solo home run in the West Virginia bullpen to give State College the lead.

O’Dowd’s RBI-single in the seventh frame put the Bears in front by one. Wentz scored O’Dowd with a double in the following at-bat to go up 8-7.

Ryan Lambert closed the final two innings for the Bears. The right-hander from Oklahoma retired all six batters faced, including back-to-back punchouts to end the game.

Storm Hierholzer started for West Virginia and went three innings, allowing two runs on one hit, while striking out seven. Ford and Black led the Black Bears offensively, going 2-for-4 at the dish, with Wentz finishing 2-for-3.

For State College, Knox Preston went 2-for-5 to lead the hit column. Benjamin connected on a two-bagger to extend his league-leading hit-streak to 12 games.

West Virginia travels to Mahoning Valley on Tuesday for a two-game set against the Scrappers before returning home for four games against the Trenton Thunder. First pitch for Thursday’s home game on West Virginia Day is set for 6:30 p.m.