By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
This is one Sell that Bluefield State could have done without.
For Nick Sell, it was like a day at the beach.
The Seton Hill sophomore clubbed three home runs and drove in seven runs, and the Griffiths maintained first place in the West Virginia Conference with a 21-1 rout of the Big Blues on a sunny, but windy Wednesday afternoon in the opening game of a doubleheader in Bluefield State’s season debut at June O. Shott Field.
That was followed by a 20-0 rout in the nightcap.
“They looked like the nationally ranked team that they are,” said Bluefield State head coach Geoff Hunter, following the first game.
Sell also added a single, drew a walk and scored five runs, and had three hits, three RBIs and two hits in the second game.
“It just looks like a beach ball coming in,” Sell said. “It feels like nothing can get by you, it felt real good at the plate today.”
It wasn’t just Sell. Seton Hill banged out 16 hits, while scoring 17 runs in the opening three innings, batting around in the lineup three times before the Blues made it once. The Griffiths hit six home runs as a team in the opener.
“They hit the ball well, they are the best team in the conference that we have played so far, there is no doubt about that,” Hunter said. “All you can do is go back out and strap it on again.”
That didn’t help. Seton Hill banged out 15 hits, including six doubles, in the second game to sweep the twinbill by a combined 41-1. The Griffins had 31 hits and no errors, while the Blues had seven hits and 11 fielding miscues.
The pitching for the Griffins wasn’t bad either. Bluefield State scored its lone run in the first inning of the opener to trim the margin to 3-1. The Big Blues finished with just four hits, and had three in the finale.
Seton Hill (24-6), which is currently in first place in the WVIAC and Atlantic Region and the 18th ranked Division II team in America, entered the game second in the WVIAC in pitching (4.30 ERA) and fielding (.968) and third in batting (.335).
“They’re a very balanced team,” Hunter said. “If you look at the statistics they have got one of the top pitching staffs, one of the top lineups and they play very good defense so they should be where they are.”
Eight of the nine Seton Hill starters had at least one hit in the opener, with Michael Cima contributing a three-run home run, Jackson Boyd added a two-run shot and Jeff Simon hit a solo blast. All six home runs went over the left field fence, aided by a swift wind blowing in that direction.
“We are a young team, we are just going to go with what we have,” said Hunter, whose two freshman hurlers — which included Princeton product and losing pitcher J.C. Pennington — walked just four, but did hit six batters with pitches. “No offense to our guys, we threw strikes for the most part, they just have a very good team.”
It started bad — and good — for Bluefield State. Pennington called for an infield pop-up by leadoff batter Branden Costantino, but was bumped by third baseman Clayton Ayers, allowing the ball to drop for an error.
Pennington promptly picked Costantino off first base. It happened again with the next batter when Pat McCarty got hit by a pitch and was picked off the base.
That was followed by Sell, who clobbered a fastball over the left field fence, but those baserunning mistakes may have cost him two more RBIs.
“We play aggressively no matter what,” Sell said. “It was a good day and we are going to try and keep it going here in the second game.
Cima followed by drawing a walk and Boyd then with a home run of his own for the 3-0 lead.
Bluefield State jumped on Seton Hill starter and winning pitcher Bob Carbaugh with a single by Princeton product Sean Williams. He was forced out on a ground ball by Dale Davis, and Davis scored on a double down the left field line by Willie Yates.
That would be it for the Blues, while the Griffiths sent nine batters to the plate and scored five runs in the second — including a two-run single by Sell — and sent 12 batters up in the third and scored eight times, with Sell hitting a two-run shot and Simon added a solo home run.
“It felt awesome, it felt like my swing was just there,” Sell said. “I got good pitches to swing at and I did my job and hit the ball hard.”
Bluefield State didn’t collect another hit until Tanner Lilly singled with two outs in the fifth. Kevin Moxey came off the bench to collect a two-out single in the seventh.
Seton Hill used five pitchers, and both teams used several players off the bench.
“They got a good opportunity for them, they got to throw a lot of pitching and he got to get some subs in too as we did,” Hunter said. “It was good for both teams to be able to play a lot of kids and give them all an opportunity to get in there and see what they can do.”
It was Cima who went deep in the fourth, following a walk to Sell with a three-run home run for the 20-1 lead. Cima, who reached base four times, with a home run, single and four RBIs, was one of just four seniors who started for Seton Hill, which is located less than a hour from Pittsburgh.
“We have got a lot of young guys that continue to come in and step up and play hard and that is what we look for, that is for sure,” said Sell, a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates and specifically outfielder Sterling Marte. “We’ve got a group of great guys, that is for sure.”
Sells finished the scoring in the sixth, slamming his third home run of the game. He was on deck to bat again in the seventh when the Blues recorded the third out and didn’t have to face him again.
“They had him last year too,” Hunter said. “He is one of the better hitters in the league, there is no doubt about it.”
Bluefield State (4-18) has shown potential with the bat, led by Williams — another product of Princeton — and Davis, a JUCO transfer who hails from the Bahamas.
“They both hit the ball pretty well, we have had several guys that have hit well,” Hunter said. “(Alex) Dunn has done a pretty good job too, there are a lot of young players in the lineup so hopefully that will bode well in the future if we have a future.”
All nine Seton Hill starters had at least one hit and one RBI and all but one scored at least one run in the 20-0 nightcap, led by Simon, who had three hits, scored four runs and drove in four more. Seton Hill led just 1-0 after four innings, but scored five in the fifth, three in the sixth and 11 in their final at-bat.
Boyd, Sell and Matt Malacane drove in three runs each, and Sell, Boyd, Costantino and McCarty scored three runs apiece. Jordan Fuller, one of three Seton Hill pitchers, earned the win.
Davis, Antonio Bolden and Josh Underwood each had hits for the Blues, while Rusty Rainey — one of five Bluefield State hurlers — took the loss.
Bluefield State, which will visit Winston-Salem State on Friday and host Glenville State on Saturday, recently won four games in a row so the Big Blues have shown promise on the diamond.
“We have been competitive,” Hunter said. “We have got a long way to go yet, but we just have to keep on keeping on.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at June O. Shott Field
Seton Hill....................359 301 0 — 21 16 0
Bluefield State.............100 000 0 — 1 4 5
Bob Carbaugh, Logan Litz (3), Brent Daviault (4), Mike Bittel (5), Samuel Bashioum (7) and Michael Cima. J.C. Pennington, Taylor Perez (3) and Kyle Blocker. W—Carbaugh; L—Pennington. HR—Nick Sell 3, 1st, 0 on; 3rd, 2 on; 6th, 0 on; Jackson Boyd 1st, 1 on; Jeff Simon 3rd, 0 on; Michael Cima 4th, 2 on.
Seton Hill................010 053 (11) — 20 15 0
Bluefield State........000 000 0 — 0 3 6
Jordan Fuller, Brad Schnelle (3), Austin Sleek (7) and Josh Forbes. Rusty Rainey, Tyler Frazier (5), Eli Nichols (7), Alex Quick (7), Clay Ayers (7) and Crachad Laing. W—Fuller; L—Rainey. HR—none.