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Kohler flashes leather as Black Bears fall to Williamsport 13-1

GRANVILLE — Williamsport got rid of a goose egg and West Virginia nearly put one on the scoreboard. The Williamsport Crosscutters (1-5) picked up their first win of the Draft League season with a 13-1 win over the Black Bears (3-3) Wednesday at Mon County Ballpark.

“It was definitely not ideal,” Black Bears manager David Carpenter said. “We got a little bit too breaking ball happy and that was one of the adjustments their hitters made. They went up there looking breaking ball and put some good swings on it.”

Black Bears pitching struggled throughout the game, giving up plenty of hard contact, walking six batters and uncorking several wild pitches throughout the night. At least two Crosscutters reached base in each of the first six innings. Williamsport scored four runs in the fifth and five in the sixth to blow the game open.

“The end goal is to show them that they’re not always going to have their best stuff, it’s not always going to be their best day,” Carpenter said. “How do you find a way to get through it? Some of the guys were able to do that with a little bit of luck, but the guys are learning and that’s what’s most important right now.”

The hosts struggled on offense too, collecting just four hits, striking out 13 times and stranding nine runners on base. It wasn’t until the bottom of the eighth inning that the team advanced a runner past second base when Morgantown High’s Aaron Jamison went to third on Brody Fahr’s double. Jamison then scored on Chase Becker’s hard ground ball to shortstop.

“We were just swinging at some pitches out of the zone and that makes it tough,” Carpenter said. “You give the opposition the idea they can execute stuff just outside of the zone, outside of where our guys’ strength is, that gives them a kind of leg up. It gets our guys thinking they’ve got to do more than just put the barrel on the baseball.”

The lone bright spot for West Virginia was the play of Logan Kohler at third base. Kohler, who just finished his junior season at the University of Memphis, flashed the leather on several dazzling plays at the hot corner. 

“It’s super impressive. He’s really wowed me with some of his plays,” Carpenter said. “I was fortunate enough to come up with some pretty good fielders during my playing career and he reminds me of a Matt Carpenter type. It’s a very high comparison, he’s obviously got a long way to work to it, but he does some things really, really well.”

Kohler bare-handed a ground ball and threw to first base for an out twice in the game, in the fourth and sixth innings, snared a screaming line drive in the fifth, ranged to his left for an out in the seventh and got an out when a baserunner drifted too far off of second base in the second. 

“It’s a guy that’s understanding where he’s at on the field, where runners are, the types of runners he’s dealing with, where the ball’s hit,” Carpenter said. “It’s spatial awareness and it’s one of those things you try to teach, but a kid has to be able to experience it to be able to operate in that setting.”

Kohler has played 107 games in two seasons at Memphis since transferring from Oklahoma, batting .306 with 17 home runs. He has five hits so far with the Black Bears, including a three-run home run during Tuesday’s 6-5 victory. 

“There’s two sides of the game, there’s offense and there’s defense so you can’t take either one for granted,” Kohler said. “It’s all about my preparation. If I’m prepped the right way, I feel comfortable. There are only a few guys who can go out there and just do it.”

Kohler still has college eligibility, so it’s unlikely he will play in the professional portion of the season for the Black Bears, but he said he wants to make the most of his 30 games with the team.

“Hopefully I’ll get the chance to play at the next level,” Kohler said. “I’m just having fun, it’s a fun league and baseball’s a fun game. You can make it not fun, but I’m just trying to have fun playing the game.”

The rubber match of the three-game series between West Virginia and Williamsport will being at Mon County Ballpark today at 6:30 p.m.

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