GRANVILLE, W.Va. - West Virginia's offense returned home invigorated from a six-game road trip to win both games of the doubleheader against the Williamsport Crosscutters on Thursday evening at Monongalia County Ballpark. After losing the last home series to Staten Island, the Black Bears began their six-game home stand with a doubleheader to make up for the postponed game on July 6 at Williamsport.
"It's great to be back, great to see a great crowd at Mon County Ballpark," said Black Bears manager Drew Saylor. "As we're starting to get into the dog days of summer…we're really excited to get everyone back and continue to play competitive baseball."
Coming off a road trip that ended in a four-hour, 10-inning marathon game at Mahoning Valley, the Black Bears began the series with a dominant 8-2 victory over Williamsport in the first of two seven-inning games. As a make-up for a matchup on the road, West Virginia was designated the away team for game one.
In the first game, the Black Bears wasted no time getting on the board as LF Matt Gorski homered off a fly ball that towered over the left field wall in the top of the second inning. After two singles put men on first and second base, CF Brett Kinneman doubled on a line drive to center field that scored 2B Cory Wood and 1B Will Matthiessen.
West Virginia continued to show their offensive prowess through the third inning as a sacrifice fly ball to right field by Gorski scored Triolo and advanced RF Blake Sabol to third. Sabol would score on a fielder's choice that put Wood on base and gave the Black Bears a 5-0 lead. An RBI single by DH Fernando Villegas plated Wood to give West Virginia the 6-0 lead going into the bottom of the inning.
Down by six runs, the Crosscutters attempted to fight their way back into the game with a homerun off RHP J.C. Flowers in the bottom of the fourth inning and an RBI single that scored a man in the bottom of the fifth. Williamsport's efforts cut the Black Bears' lead to four runs, though they entered the sixth inning still trailing 6-2.
However, West Virginia was determined to finish the game with a bang and added two insurance runs in the top of the sixth inning. 3B Jared Triolo tripled on a line drive driven deep to center field to bring home C Elys Escobar , while a double from Sabol would score Triolo. After seven innings of play, the Black Bears topped the Crosscutters by a final score of 8-2.
Starting pitcher J.C. Flowers finished a strong outing with six strikeouts and only two hits and one run allowed over four innings pitched. But it was reliever LHP Denny Roman (2-0) who recorded the win over Williamsport. With his second win of the season, Roman allowed only one run and two hits over three innings to give the Black Bears their third consecutive victory.
"The last home series (against Staten Island) was an opportunity for our guys to get punched in the mouth a little bit, and it's been nice to be able to see them respond over the last seven or eight days," said Saylor.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Black Bears continued their winning ways to beat the Crosscutters 2-1. Despite playing 17 innings of baseball in 24 hours, the home team gathered their strength one last time to finish the two-game set on Thursday.
"I think it's important for me to bring positive energy. At the end of the day, I can't expect my players to do something that I'm not willing to do myself," said Saylor. "I think more than anything else, it's been a mantra of our staff and mine for years - to be positive and continue to encourage one another."
As the home team, West Virginia went to bat in the bottom of the first inning with the intent to finish what they began in the first game. C Kyle Wilkie singled on a line drive to left field that scored SS Ethan Paul to put the Black Bears up 1-0. They would score again in the bottom of the second on a single by Cory Wood after Crosscutters' pitcher Chris Micheles walked Brett Kinneman and 3B Dean Lockery .
Though the visiting team would score one unearned run in the top of the sixth inning on a stolen base, the Black Bears closed out the game with no further runs scored. West Virginia completed the doubleheader win with a score of 2-1.
Black Bears starting pitcher Jesus Valles recorded his second win of the season (2-1) after throwing 5.1 innings. RHP Oliver Garcia was credited with the save. Garcia, who joined the team at the end of July, has pitched four games for the Black Bears and has not allowed a run in all four appearances.
West Virginia continues the series against Williamsport on Friday, August 9. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. with Friday Night Fireworks presented by Habitat for Humanity to follow immediately after the game. The Black Bears finish the series against the Crosscutters on Saturday, August 10, on Military Appreciation Night. For more information on the schedule and promotions, click HERE.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.