Black Bears Mount Late-Game Comeback to Beat the Keys 5-4

GRANVILLE, W.Va. - On a gloomy Tuesday afternoon, the West Virginia Black Bears donned their Mothman jerseys for game one of their three-game series against the Frederick Keys at Monongalia County Ballpark. Despite trailing early in the game, a three-run home run from Ryan Hernandez powered the Bears over the Keys in their 5-4 win at The Mon.

The Black Bears faced some adversity early as the Keys mounted a quick 2-0 lead after two innings. Frederick’s DH Robert Brooks tallied the first run in the top of the first inning with an RBI single that scored SS Evan Berkey. The next inning, CF Amir Wright doubled on a line drive to right field to score C Matt Oldham before Wright was thrown out at third to end the inning.

However, starting pitcher Luke Eldred quickly turned things around in the fourth and fifth innings for the home team, notching two strikeouts in back-to-back innings to hold the Keys’ lead at two.

The sixth proved to be the biggest inning of the night for the Black Bears as Eldred got strikeout number four to help the defense retire the side with two Keys runners on base in the top half.

In the bottom of the inning, DH Ryan Hernandez blasted a three-run home run over the center field wall that scored CF Turner Hill and 2B Maddux Houghton to put the Black Bears ahead 5-2. The three-run shot marked number 11 on the season for Hernandez, adding to his MLB Draft League single-season record.

The Keys did their best to even the score in the last third of the game as they plated two more runners in the seventh and eighth innings. In the seventh, RF Caleb Upshaw sent a solo shot over the left field wall to cut the Bears lead to 5-3. A single from 1B Alex Baeza that brought home Berkey in the top of the eighth pulled the Keys within one run.

Black Bears reliever Grayson Thurman entered in the ninth to ensure no more Keys runners scored. Thurman ended the game with two strikeouts in his single-inning appearance, picking up his fifth save of the season as West Virginia beat Frederick 5-4.

On the offensive side, Hernandez led the team with his three-run home run, ending his evening with one hit, one run and three RBI. Turner Hill continued his second-half dominance with one hit in four at-bats and one run. With his .432 BA, Hill leads the MLB Draft League in batting average just ahead of teammate Maddux Houghton who ranks second with a .427 BA.

West Virginia returns to The Mon for game two against Frederick on Wednesday evening. First pitch for the mid-week game is set for 6:35 p.m.