Black Bears, Local Sports, Sports

Black Bears take series opener from Spikes behind big 3rd inning

GRANVILLE — A five-run frame lifted the West Virginia Black Bears over the State College Spikes by a score of 5-3 at Kendrick Family Ballpark on Friday evening. Jordan Rogers connected on a sacrifice fly to deep center field in the bottom of the third, scoring Mauricio Millan and opening the floodgates for the West Virginia offense. 

In the top of the third, Spikes’ Samuel Benjamin laced an RBI double to right field to open the scoring. The two-bagger extended Benjamin’s hit streak to a league-leading 10 games. Third baseman Cade Climie later brought home Benjamin with a groundout, putting the Spikes up 2-0. 

But the bottom half of the inning proved devastating for State College. Millan led off with a base hit, followed by a walk from shortstop Dalton Wentz. Dariel Osoria added a single to set the stage. Rogers drove in Millan with a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to one. Brody Black worked a walk in the ensuing at-bat to reload the bases. Ryley Preece, Lucas Ismaili and Joey Spence each worked RBI walks to make it a 4-2 game. Later in the inning, Millan in his second at-bat soaked up a run-scoring hit-by-pitch for a 5-2 lead. 

The Spikes scored one more in the eighth to cut the lead to two, but any hopes of a comeback were quickly deflated by the Bears’ closer. Former Oklahoma reliever Ryan Lambert took the mound for West Virginia in the top of the ninth. With just ten pitches, Lambert retired the side, striking out two for the win. 

Black Bears’ starter Dylan Cheeley went 3.1 innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out four. The right-hander whiffed three of the first four batters faced. Eric Loomis hurled two scoreless innings in relief for the Black Bears, striking out four and allowing one hit. Ryan Lambert retired the side in order in the ninth, fanning two and picking up the save with a fastball clocked at 99.4 mph.

For the Spikes, Chris Stuart struck out four over 2.1 hitless innings. Douglas Bauer followed with two innings. The right-hander struck out four of the seven batters faced, all in succession. Ben Plumley retired the side in order in the eighth.

The win gives the Black Bears their first over the Spikes after being swept in Happy Valley last weekend. With the victory, the Bears move to 4-6 on the season, 3.5 games behind the first-place Williamsport Crosscutters and trailing one game to State College.

West Virginia looks to capture the series in the middle game against the Spikes on Saturday, June 15. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m.