GRANVILLE — With fireworks popping throughout the sky above Morgantown from Monongalia County Ballpark’s perch above the Monongahela River, the West Virginia Black Bears used some late-game heroics from Paul Brands and Robbie Glendinning on July 4, against the Williamsport Crosscutters.
In a seesaw game, West Virginia got the final blow when Glendinning smacked a two-run double down the right field line to break a 5-5 eighth inning tie. Just before that, Brands dribbled a base hit that was mishandled by Williamsport third baseman Alec Bohm.
Logan Stoelke earned the save in the ninth inning to give West Virginia (8-11) a 7-5 win.
“We gave the people their money’s worth on the Fourth of July,” Bears manager Kieran Mattison said. “It was a good game for both sides, and both teams competed and battled it out until the end.”
It was the professional debut of third baseman Mike Gretler, who last week joined the dog pile in Omaha, Neb., when his Oregon State Beavers won the College World Series. The Pittsburgh Pirates’ 10th round pick collected his first hit and also made a few stellar defensive plays that saved the Black Bears’ bullpen.
“You can see why he was on a national championship team,” Mattison said. “When you can make a play in those moments — you see he’s really quick off the ball and doesn’t panic. It looked like he’s been playing here for two weeks already.”
Travis Swaggerty, the Pirates’ first-round pick taken 10th overall, returned to the lineup after missing about a week to be with his girlfriend, who was diagnosed with cancer on June 23.
Swaggerty led off the Black Bears’ half of the first inning with a double off Williamsport starting pitcher Jhordany Mezquita and came around to score on Brett Kinneman’s two-out double into the left-center field gap. Kenneman scored on Jhoan Herrera’s RBI double to give the Black Bears an early 2-0 lead.
After the Crosscutters tied the score in the third, Swaggerty began another rally, knocking a single into right. Luke Mangieri and Herrera tallied RBIs to give West Virginia a 4-2 lead.
Swaggerty finished the night with three hits in five at bats. Kinneman (two), Glendinning (two) Mangieri and Herrera tallied all of the RBIs for West Virginia.
On the mound, Michael LoPresti got the start but went only three innings and gave up two runs. Ryan Valdes helped keep the Black Bears in the game, tossing three innings of his own out of the bullpen, giving up one unearned run, on a wild pitch.
Cody Smith blew the save in the seventh but ended up getting the win.
“Those guys have all been pitching the ball really well,” Mattison said. “They did the same last series (against Batavia): Keep the score where it’s at to give us a chance. Valdes did a great job of coming in in the fourth inning and getting all the way through the sixth. Having that type of guy can really help us.”
The series continues at 7 p.m. today.