MORGANTOWN — Zach Harman threw his second straight playoff gem, University’s offense capitalized on uncharacteristic Morgantown mistakes and the Hawks won game one of the Class AAA Region 1 series 13-1 Monday on Dave Miller Field at Mylan Park.
“Our guys showed up ready to play today and Zach was phenomenal on the mound,” UHS coach Brad Comport said. “Our offense did a good job of scoring consistently early on in the ballgame and extending our lead once we had it. I’m just really proud of our guys and the way that they came out today.”
UHS (23-10) scored four runs in the top of the second and five in the third, taking advantage of four Morgantown fielding errors and five hit-by-pitches. And the Hawks did it without their biggest bats as well, as No. 3 and 4 hitters Noah Braham and Wenkai Campbell combined for one hit, two runs and two RBI.
“That just shows the depth of our lineup and that everybody’s capable,” Comport said. “I thought our guys had really quality at-bats and they played situational baseball really well. We moved runs over, got them in, we wore pitches and got deep into counts, that’s a lot of stuff that we’ve worked on.”
Exactly one week prior, Harman, the senior left-hander, threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings in a winner-take-all section final against Bridgeport and on Monday, he followed up with five innings of one-run ball against the Mohigans (23-7).
“Zach has been good all year, but he’s really found his game at the right time,” Comport said. “The bright lights weren’t too bright for him and he just did a really good job of staying composed and making pitches. Just awesome back-to-back starts for him.”
Harman struck out three and yielded just five baserunners to the hosts, two hits, two walks, a hit-by-pitch and a dropped third strike.
“I was just really confident to go up there and throw strikes because of the great defense behind me that made every play,” Harman said. “I think it was just all the work I put in over the offseason finally showing.”
MHS did not collect its first hit until Drew Bailey reach on an infield single in the bottom of the fourth inning when UHS already led 9-0.
“We didn’t have him figured out,” MHS coach Pat Sherald said of Harman. “He just competed. I looked up in the fourth inning and he only had 33 pitches. We’ve got to be able to work counts a little bit better. You’ve got to tip your hat to him.”
Morgantown ace Dylan Travinski was tagged for 10 runs in the outing, allowing seven hits and striking out two. Jake Croston’s solo home run to lead off the top of the fourth chased Travinski from the game.
“We just didn’t play well at all in all parts of the game. It is a little uncharacteristic for our ballclub.” Sherald said. “I told the guys hopefully they’ve got it all out of their system and we come out (Tuesday) and even the series and then we’ll play for a chance to go to the state championship on Wednesday. That’s got to be our mindset.”
University struck first in the top of the second when Croston singled, Gabe Jansen reached on a fielder’s choice and then back-to-back plunkings drove in a run as Josh Smolkin took a breaking pitch to the back of the helmet. A second run came in on Brodee Latocha’s groundout and Cody Thomas’ two-out single into shallow centerfield doubled the lead to 4-0.
The top of the third began with another hit-by-pitch and two Morgantown errors to load the bases. Campbell was thrown out a home on Jansen’s groundball, but Jett Walters battled in the next at-bat and sent a two-strike offering into right field for a two-run RBI single. Latocha added another RBI on an infield hit and Braham followed with a two-run knock into right field for a 9-0 advantage.
UHS scored in all four innings after the first and in all four took advantage of either a Morgantown error, a hit-by-pitch or both to push runs across.
“We tell our guys to find a way on in any way that you can,” Comport said. “If that means getting hit by a pitch to get a free 90 feet, it’s most of the time a little bit of pain for a lot of reward for the team.”
Latocha, Thomas, Braham and Walters each finished with two RBI while Thomas and Croston each had two hits.
For Morgantown, Riley Anderson reached on a dropped third strike to lead off the fifth and came around to score during a 6-4-3 double play two batters later for the Mohigan’s lone run.
“This is a mature group, so I fully expect these guys to come out ready to play (Tuesday),’ Sherald said. “We’ll see how we respond. Regardless of what the score was today, we just didn’t play good baseball. We have to refocus, come out and focus on playing baseball the Mohigan way.”
The series will now shift to University’s Shilling Field for Game 2, about 100 feet away also at Mylan Park. A UHS win will send the Hawks to the state tournament while a Morgantown victory will force a winner-take-all Game 3 at Mon County Ballpark on Wednesday.
“The job is far from over, we know how good those guys are over there,” Comport said. “Anytime you’re in a series, it’s obviously huge to get the first one. To do it in the manner that we did helps us in a lot of ways, but baseball is a game where you have to show up every day. You can’t let up for a second, especially against a group like (Morgantown).”
University 13, Morgantown 1, 5 innings
UHS 045 22 — 13 9 0
MHS 000 01 — 1 2 4
UNIVERSITY — Latocha 4 0 1 2; Thomas 4 0 2 2; Braham 3 1 1 2; Campbell 3 1 0 0; Croston 4 3 2 1; Templeton 3 2 1 1; Jansen 3 2 0 0; Walters 3 2 2 2; Smolkin 2 2 0 1. Totals 29 13 9 11.
MORGANTOWN — Mazey 2 0 0 0; Travinski 1 0 0 0; Galusky 3 0 0 0; Fluharty 2 0 0 0; Bailey 3 0 1 0; Nutter 1 0 0 0; Cottle 0 0 0 0; Neer 2 0 0 0; Boggs 1 0 0 0; Anderson 1 1 0 0; Dorkins 0 0 0 0; McDonald 1 0 1 0. Totals 16 1 2 0.
2B — UHS: Thomas, Templeton.
HR — UHS: Croston.
WP — Harman 5ip, 1r, 2h, 2bb, 3k
LP — Travinski 3ip, 10r, 7h, 1bb, 2k