To give you some kind of idea of just how talented the West Virginia Black Bears’ pitching staff is, consider this:

Black Bears manager Brian Esposito pulled off an unheard-of high-five of nothingness in Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over Mahoning Valley, at Monongalia County Ballpark.

He sent five different pitchers to the mound, all with
0.00 ERAs, and all five exited the game with the same spotless number.

“Tough to do, except maybe on opening night,” Esposito said. “When you’re nine games in(to the season) and you’re still running guys out there who are posting up some zeros, that’s a good thing to do.”

No kidding.

Starting pitcher Scooter Hightower gave up an unearned run in the fourth. The former 15th-round pick out of Columbia State Community College has pitched 11 innings this season and allowed just four hits and no earned runs.

That includes his June 22 start against Williamsport, in which he pitched a perfect five innings and struck out 10.

Hightower was followed by relief pitchers Matt Seelinger, Pasquale Mazzocoli, Nicholas Economos and Julio Eusebio.

They combined to give up just one hit over four innings.

“Am I surprised? No,” Esposito said. “That’s who we are. That’s what they’re supposed to be doing. I’d be surprised if they were not pitching to this identity.”

And while Hightower maybe has jockeyed for position to be the face of the Bears’ staff so far, he is far from alone in putting up impressive numbers.

“Our whole pitching staff is pretty talented,” Hightower said. “As Pirates, we come out and attack the strike zone. Not just one guy. Not just a couple of guys, but every pitcher we have. We all go out and make the batters earn everything.”

It is a straight-forward and aggressive pitching theory, but man, has it worked so far.

West Virginia’s team ERA
is a New York-Penn League-leading 1.44.

“They’re living up to what our Pirates’ identity is,” Esposito said. “We’re looking to attack hitters and get some early outs. We’re trying to get guys out in three pitches or less, so we’re attacking the zone.

“Guys are doing a tremendous job of doing that. We’re not giving guys free passes. They’re competing in the zone and our defense has played well behind them.”

Fifteen of the 20 pitchers pitchers the Black Bewars have used for at least an inning this year have perfect 0.00 ERAs, with seven of them pitching at least three innings.

It’s early, sure. But what are those numbers going to look like come September?

Therein lies part of the story behind the Black Bears pitchers: They do not lack in confidence.

While simple logic and mathematics will tell you those ERAs can’t stay perfect forever, these pitchers are not that interested in logic.

“I don’t think there is a limit on it at all,” Hightower said. “We can keep it going as long as we want, basically. As long as we stick to our mentality and do what we know how to do, I feel like it can last all season.”

Justin Jackson is a reporter for The Dominion Post. Write him at columns@dominionpost.com.