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Quinn and Hodges dominate out of the bullpen as West Virginia gets 1st win of 2024

GRANVILLE — Relievers Victor Quinn and Hunter Hodges were literally unhittable out of the West Virginia bullpen as the Black Bears picked up their first win of the MLB Draft League season, 3-1, over the Frederick Keys Wednesday evening at Kendrick Family Ballpark.

Quinn, a junior from Missouri, and Hunter, a senior from TCU, combined to throw five hitless innings out of the West Virginia (1-1) bullpen with 12 strikeouts. The Keys (1-1) only put three balls into play against the duo, a flyout to center and two groundouts to shortstop.

“I’m super, super impressed with them,” WV manager David Carpenter said. “Vic featuring a high-octane fastball with a cutter and a slider to go with it. It took a little bit for him to get dialed in, but there is so much upside there.”

Quinn was first out of the pen in the fifth inning and impressed right away with a fastball that touched 96 miles-per-hour. His command was shaky to start, but he struck out five across two hitless frames, earning the win.

Hodges followed and got the save with three more hitless frames. In contrast to Quinn’s high heat, Hodges mainly employed a slider and curveball that kept Frederick’s hitters off-balance.

“Victor’s got the velocity that impresses, so I’ve got to come and and do my thing, which is spin the ball,” Hodges said. “It’s a good change of pace and we were both successful.”

Hodges struck out seven hitters over his three innings with a pair of walks.

“That’s a fairly good hitting team too, they’re not a bad hitting team,” Carpenter emphasized. “Hunter commanded the strike zone with every pitch that he threw. I’m just really, really impressed with how those guys threw.”

It wasn’t Hodges’ first time pitching in Kendrick Family Ballpark, having made a pair of scoreless appearances during the Horned Frogs’ three-game series in Morgantown in 2023.

“It’s nicer to be on the home side and not in 40-degree, rainy weather,” Hodges joked. “The facilities are nice over here, it’s a great place and a great town. It’s fun to be here.”

Having finished he senior season at TCU, Hodges is hoping to showcase his skill in the Draft League’s first half in the pursuit of being drafted next month.

“I’ve been dreaming of playing professional baseball for my whole life so this is kind of my last little shot to impress some people and show them what I’m capable of,” he said.

Not to be overshadowed by the relievers, WV starter Cory Ronan also turned in a good performance. The southpaw from the University of Hawaii tossed four innings of one-run ball, allowing five hits and striking out two.

The Keys got their run on a bases-loaded groundout in the top of the third. 

The Black Bears took the lead in the bottom of the frame on a two-run double by Jeff Liquori that scored Brody Black and Jarrett Ford. Liquori, from Florida International, already has three doubles and five RBI in just two games.

“He’s just really composed at the plate and doesn’t get too excited,” Carpenter said. “He understands what he does well and he just goes out there and competes. Puts his foot in the ground, stays behind the baseball and gets the barrel to it. It’s a really simple swing, but there’s some juice to it.”

The Black Bears added an insurance run on Mauricio Millan’s two-out single through the right side that scored Lucas Ismaili in the bottom of the sixth. 

The rubber match of the three-game series between West Virginia and Frederick will start at 6:30 p.m. this evening at Kendrick Family Ballpark.