Hawks avoid rain but chill out in 18-1 win over Preston

MORGANTOWN — There was sunshine, clouds, bitter cold and even a little bit of snow April 4, at Mylan Park, and wind so stiff that birds stayed in one place no matter how hard they flapped their wings, but at least it wasn’t raining.

That’s exactly how the University High baseball team looked at the not-so-friendly conditions — they’re not ideal, but they’re playable. It was the first time the Hawks played a game outside of Florida this season, which began in mid-March.

UHS athletic director Jeff Bailey “and I had talked about that at 7:30 this morning — the fact that we won’t be fighting the rain, but it’ll be cold,” head coach Donovan “Buck” Riggleman said after his team’s 18-1 win over Preston. “In the state of West Virginia at this time of year, though, you just have to deal with that.”

The game was played on the lower turf field because the grass field was unplayable, due to downpours Tuesday and Wednesday morning. There are no dugouts and the outfield is not nearly as deep as most high school level fields, but “at least we’re not practicing in a gym,” Riggleman said.

The Hawks (2-5) have had four games postponed this season, including Tuesday night’s match-up with Morgantown. They did play six games in Cocoa Beach, Fla., last week.

Although UHS was happy to get the game in, the wind chill made for difficult playing conditions. PHS (1-3) starting pitcher Jacob Field’s hand was as red as the artificial dirt infield during the second inning.

“This is certainly not baseball weather, I can tell you that much,” Knights head coach Glen McNew Jr. said. “Our kids still have to get more aggressive at the plate and we let kids on the mound get some experience, and that’s really all you can take out of a day like this.”

Other than the bats stinging a little more than usual in the cold, it’s more of a mental hurdle than it is physical, according to Riggleman.

“Physically, these kids can play in this,” he said. “If they’re mentally prepared, I know they can do it, and they were today.”

The Hawks pounded out 11 hits, including three home runs — two by senior Ross Mulhall and another by fellow senior Cam Stoldt. Mulhall and Kevin Smith each led the team in runs batted in, with four.

Starting pitcher Josh Gibson got the win, tossing three innings and allowed no hits while tallying eight strikeouts. Jacob Spearen pitched the final two innings, allowing one hit and striking out three.

PHS’s hit was recorded by shortstop Corey Pyles.

UHS will play at Wheeling Park at 5 p.m. today, while the Knights will host Buckhannon-Upshur at 5 p.m. Friday.

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