West Virginia Unable to Hold On in Sudden Death Thriller Against Frederick

GRANVILLE, W.Va. – The West Virginia Black Bears lost the first game of the series to the Frederick Keys in sudden death on Tuesday evening at Monongalia County Ballpark. After holding a four-run lead heading into the seventh, Frederick tied the game with four scored in the top of the eighth. The Bears lost the game in sudden death after electing to play defense with a run scored on an RBI single by Caleb Upshaw.

Frederick struck first in the top of the second with a sac-fly from C Trevor Johnson that scored 3B Robert Brooks. West Virginia answered quickly in the bottom of the inning courtesy of an RBI single by catcher JC Santini that scored 3B Jack Elliot to tie the game at one run.  

In the bottom of the third, Keys starting pitcher Raul Salazar was struck in the head on a line drive back to the mound by DH Ryan Hernandez. Salazar was able to stand and exit the field to be replaced by RHP Jose Suero before heading to the EMS station. 

The Keys reclaimed the lead in the top of the fifth on a fielder’s choice from SS Evan Berkey that scored RF Caleb Upshaw, putting them ahead 2-1. The Keys held onto the momentum in the bottom of the inning, striking out two out of three Black Bears batters to send the game into the sixth inning.  

After holding the Keys scoreless through the top of the inning with a beautiful throw to the plate from CF Maddux Houghton, the Black Bears combined for three doubles and two triples to storm ahead 6-2. Back-to-back doubles from DH Adan Fernandez and Elliott tied the game at two runs. Elliot then scored on a triple from LF Ruben Fontes, who was sent home by a sac-fly from 2B Jovante Dorris. Turner Hill hit the third double of the inning to score Santini, followed by the second triple of the inning from Houghton which allowed Hill to cross the plate for the sixth and final run.

West Virginia starting pitcher Zach Bravo put on a dominant performance through six innings of work, earning three strikeouts and allowing just two runs. Bryce Woody relieved Bravo in the top of the seventh and helped the defense retire the side.   

However, the Keys mounted a comeback in the top of the eighth to send the game into sudden death. A single from Johnson that scored DH Jake Plastiak cut the lead in half to 6-3. Tyrese Clayborne continued the scoring with a two-RBI single that scored Brooks and LF Ben Fitzgerald. Shortstop Evan Berkey tied the game at six runs with a single that scored pinch runner Myles Nicholson.

The Keys made quick work of the Black Bears in the bottom of the eighth, and closer Grayson Thurman answered in the top of the ninth, striking out Fitzgerald to cap off another quick inning for the West Virginia defense.

Unable to score in the bottom of the ninth, the game went into sudden death. Pinch hitter Matt Oldham led off the sudden death inning for Myles Nicholson. With Fitzgerald on first, Thurman remained on the mound for the Bears. Oldham advanced the runner to second with a sacrifice bunt before a line drive by Upshaw that ricocheted off Thurman bounced just right of Hernandez to score Fitzgerald for the Frederick win.

The Black Bears return for the second game of the series against the Frederick Keys and the penultimate home game of the regular season on Wednesday evening. First pitch for the game is set for 6:35 p.m.