Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

May 4, 2014

Mountain Lions bats batter Cavs

ATHENS — The aroma of homemade food for a Senior Day meal was already drifting around Anderson Field at mid-afternoon on Saturday.

However, Concord University’s baseball players were able to keep their focus on the task at hand, which resulted in 12-2 and 20-5 wins over UVa-Wise.

Senior outfielder Bret Blevins said, “I knew what we had to do this weekend, not only for personal things — it being Senior Day and everything like that — but also for our regional standings and stuff like that.”

Concord head coach Andrew Wright said, “The guys handled it very, very well. I thought they handled it the way they were supposed to. They left what was off the field, off the field, and they took care of what they needed to, on the field.”

The Mountain Lions (34-14, 21-11 Mountain East Conference) banged out 33 hits in the two seven-inning games. The Highland Cavaliers (16-25, 13-20) fell behind 6-0 after three innings of the first game and trailed 17-0 in the second before plating a run.

“They got out on us quick,” said UVa-Wise head coach Hank Banner. “We made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized on them like a good team will.”

“They’ve got a quality team. They made us look a little worse than we are, I think. They were swinging good. Like I said, when you miss spots, and you stay behind in the count, they’re going to make you pay.”

Wright said, “It was nice to see (the batters) come out in that fashion, because we need that going into the (Mountain East Conference) tournament.”

Over the course of the day, seniors contributed in a big way at bat. Blevins was 6 for 8 with five runs, three RBI and three stolen bases, and extended his hitting streak to 17 games.

Catcher Brandon Costa was 4 for 6 at the plate.

First baseman Joey Miller drove in seven runs overall, three of them on his 10th home run of the season, a shot over the center field fence in the second inning of game two.

Blevins said, “We had a pretty good energy out here. So for us just to get on top, we knew we’d be able to roll with it. It was a snowball effect. Once we got it going, we knew that we’re a pretty tough team and we’d have the energy to come out with it.”

Wright said about Blevins, “He leads by example. ... He just gets out there and gets after it. It’s nice when your No. 3 hitter’s going to put you in a position to win, and he very much did that.”

Seniors on the pitching corps shared the spotlight.

Ryan Weatherholtz (7-4) struck out five batters in 4 2/3 innings to pick up the win in game one. Dustin Nuckels handled the final 2 1/3 innings, holding the Cavaliers without a hit and striking out two batters.

Wright said about Weatherholtz, “Ryan was Ryan. Every week he shows up and gives you the same effort.”

Tyler Coyle (7-2) allowed six singles and no walks in five innings on the mound for game two. Bryant Pybus and Brandon Tucker finished it out for their senior teammate.

Eight of Concord’s nine batters scored in the second inning of that game. Seven scored in the following frame.

For UVa-Wise, Jordan Olinger was 3 for 6 and drove in two runs in the two games. Chaz Tanner was 2 for 3 with an RBI in game two from the No. 9 batting position.

The 20 runs were the most in one game for Concord since a 27-run win in nine innings last April 24 against Bluefield State College.

Taking a bigger look at the day, Blevins said this year’s senior day was “bittersweet. It’s definitely nice to have the support and it’s nice to have our families out here. But at the same time, it’s sad, too, because you know that your season is starting to come to a close.

“So it’s just time to buckle down and focus and play as much baseball as possible.”

Wright said the turnout estimated at 180 for senior day, not to mention the picnic meal, was “outstanding. It just shows the level of support we have in this program. Our players are very blessed to have this kind of support group around them.”

Another doubleheader in Athens is scheduled for today to finish out the regular season, with the first pitch at noon.

Banner said, “We were a little down on our pitching today, but we’re looking at coming back out here tomorrow and doing a little bit better. ... That’s a good thing about baseball, you don’t have to think about ’em too long. Usually, you’re playing the next day.”

Two more victories by Concord would tie the school record for most baseball wins in a season, 36.

— Contact Tom Bone

at tbone@bdtonline.com

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