The Black Bears have had some trouble producing offense this year, but on Saturday they celebrated cartoon uniform night, getting some timely hitting and some help from the defense to put nine runs on the board in a win over Batavia. The final was 9-3.
The Bears didn’t do a lot in the early going against Marlins’ prospect Remey Reed, who combined a lively fastball with a good curve that he consistently threw for strikes. West Virginia had only one hit in Reed’s four innings, although they had some well hit outs. Those included a drive by Deon Stafford that the left fielder reached over the fence to catch and also a drive to the fence in center by Dylan Busby (pictured).
Scooter Hightower started for West Virginia and allowed three runs, all unearned, in five innings. Hightower allowed only three hits and walked none, but he hit three batters. He threw a fastball, curve and change, none of which was a swing-and-miss pitch. He fanned just two, but he changed speeds well and moved the ball around without catching a lot of the plate most of the time. (No useful velocity readings; West Virginia has a bizarre scoreboard gun that appears to be 8-10 mph slow.) Hightower’s command was spotty, leading to some hitters counts that Batavia didn’t take good advantage of, although there were several hard liners that were caught.
Batavia got a run in the fourth and two in the fifth. The first one came when Busby couldn’t short-hop a hard grounder. That runner eventually scored on a two-out single. In the fifth, shortstop Brett Pope was charged with a two-base error for a wild throw on a slow bouncer up the middle; the ruling probably should have been a hit plus an error. Hightower hit the next batter and a run eventually scored when center fielder Jared Oliva couldn’t make a diving catch on a shallow bloop. Batavia’s third run came on a sacrifice fly.
With Reed gone, the Bears made it 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth when Tristan Gray singled, Jose Barraza doubled him in, and Lucas Tancas grounded hard off the third baseman’s glove to bring in Barraza.
They then scored six times in the sixth. The first two batters reached on errors, although one was a hard smash by Oliva that the third baseman couldn’t handle. Busby lined a double into the left field corner to drive in a pair of runs. Two walks and a wild pitch brought in a third run, and with two outs Pope looped a two-run double down the left field line. A sixth run scored when the Batavia second baseman failed to catch a routine popup. The Bears got their final run when Busby, who obviously swung the bat very well, lined another double into the left field corner and Gray doubled to drive him in.
Blake Weiman, the Pirates’ eighth-round draft pick, followed Hightower with two perfect innings, just in time to qualify for the win. He fanned three of the six hitters he faced. Weiman throws a fastball, curve and change, of which the curve looked like the best pitch. His fastball isn’t overpowering, but he located the pitch very well and kept it down. Weiman commanded all of his pitches very well.
Matt Seelinger closed it out with two scoreless innings for West Virginia.