By GARY FAUBER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
With the No. 1 offense in the league, the fact that Concord can hit is no secret.
Guess what: The pitching isn’t that bad, either.
Tyler Coyle turned in the Mountain Lions’ third solid effort in as many games, tossing a complete game in a 6-3 win over Fairmont State Friday in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament at Beckley’s Linda K. Epling Stadium.
The victory set up today’s 1 p.m. championship game between Concord and West Virginia State. It will be a rematch of the 2011 title game, won 13-7 by Concord.
Coyle (7-4) was a vital reason for the Mountain Lions getting back to the title game.
The left-hander from Clemmons, N.C., allowed seven hits and three earned runs but struck out seven and walked one. Except for a hiccup in the fifth, Coyle was in control.
“I was just trying to make pitches and throw strikes,” Coyle said. “I know I have a good defense behind me so I was just trying to let them make the plays.”
The performance from Coyle was the definition of keeping hitters off balance. Leadoff hitter Jeremy Walter struck out waving at an outside pitch, setting the tone for Coyle’s day.
“He’s the kind of pitcher who can provide that kind of atmosphere for you, because he throws three pitches for strikes,” Concord coach Andrew Wright said. “He throws
The game was a continuation of a theme that has helped Concord all week. The Lions (35-18) are hitting .368 and are the only team in the conference to surpass 500 runs scored this season.
But it’s been the pitching that has carried Concord in the postseason. Ryan Weatherholtz and Chris Baker combined to hold West Liberty to seven hits in the first game, then Kevin Mack and Will Zuspan allowed only six to Charleston as Concord won by identical scores of 5-1.
“We’re just making quality pitches, I think,” Wright said. “Our guys are competitors and I think that’s what it comes down to.”
“We’ve just been working hard,” Coyle said. “The hitters are (joking) about the pitchers, that we are not as good as they are, so we had to prove that the pitchers have some good stuff, too.”
Coyle accomplished that against the Falcons, who stayed alive by coming back with a four-run eighth to beat Shepherd 10-8 in an elimination game Friday afternoon.
He faced one batter over the minimum through the first 4 2/3 innings, sitting down 10 consecutive batters at one point.
Coyle ran into two-out trouble in the fifth with his team leading 5-0.
A run-scoring double by Josh Wine brought in Shady Spring alumnus Tyler Lucas with the first Fairmont run. That was followed by consecutive RBI singles by Walter and Trevor Funk that made it a 5-3 game.
Concord got one of the runs back in the sixth when Bret Blevins led off with a single, went to second on a passed ball, advanced to third on Jerrod Groves bunt and scored on a wild pitch.
The Lions went ahead 3-0 in the fourth thanks to RBI singles from Blevins, Groves and T.J. Brockway.
They added two more in the fifth. Ryan Johnston drove in Andrew Seigel with a sac fly and Joey Miller had a run-scoring single.
John Fox suffered the loss for Fairmont (23-25). He gave up five hits and four runs, three earned, walked two and struck out two over four-plus innings.
Shady Spring graduate Corey Lilly pitched well in relief. He was charged with two earned runs and three hits in five innings but struck out four and walked one.
Today, Concord will try to win its fifth conference title and the last ever. The WVIAC will disband and form the Mountain East Conference for competition to begin this fall.
“One-shot deal just like two years ago,” Wright said. “We’ve just got to come out with a lot of energy, and I don’t think that’s going to be an issue. Our guys are very up for this.”
— E-mail: gfauber
Concord................000 321 000 — 6 8 0
Fairmont State........000 030 000 — 3 7 1
CU: Tyler Coyle and T.J. Brockway, Brandon Costa (9), FSU: John Fox, Corey Lilly (5) and Jeff Fansler. WP — Coyle. LP — Fox. Hitting — CU: Andrew Seigel 1-3, Devin Smith 1-4, Ryan Johnston 1-3 (rbi), Joey Miller 1-4, Bret Blevins 2-3 (rbi), Jerrod Groves 2-2 (rbi), Brockway (rbi), FSU: Jeremy Walter 2-4 (rbi), Trevor Funk 1-3 (rbi), Randy Tallhamer 1-4, Tyler Barnette 1-4, Tyler Lucas (run), Nick Breen 1-4, Josh Wine 1-4 (2b, rbi).
Records: CU: 35-18; FSU: 23-25.