Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

May 9, 2014

Concord clobbers Notre Dame in Mountain East

BECKLEY — Concord University baseball coach Andrew Wright couldn’t have asked for a better start.

His Mountain Lions roared loudly, beating Notre Dame 14-0 in the opening round of the inaugural Mountain East Conference baseball tournament Thursday afternoon at Linda K. Epling Stadium in Beckley, behind a nine-run, 10-hit first inning and a solid six-inning shutout from starting pitcher Ryan Weatherholtz.

With the win, Concord is now 37-14, breaking a school record for victories in a season.

“Ryan went out and pitched, and when you have that kind of confidence in your starting pitcher, it allows you to relax a bit offensively,” Wright said. “It all started with a great at-bat from Andrew Seigel and kind of went in our favor from there.”

Seigel, the No. 2 batter in the Mountain Lions’ lineup, worked a full count and drew a walk. When Notre Dame pitcher Matt Kastelic tried to pick-off Seigel at first, the ball went past Keifer Quick and bounced into the outfield, allowing Seigel to easily move his way around the bases to third.

On the next pitch, Bret Blevins doubled to bring Seigel home.

The luck wouldn’t change for the Falcons, who allowed Blevins to move to third on a passed ball. He would then be brought home by Mountain East Conference player of the year Joey Miller.

When all was said and done, nine Mountain Lions crossed the plate in the inning, but only three of them were credited to starting pitcher Matt Kastelic.

It was a frustrating scene for the Falcon pitcher, something his coach, former Cleveland Indians’ hurler Len Barker, knew a thing or two about.

“We came out flat and didn’t execute in the first inning,” Barker said. “And then made errors in the first inning. We can’t do that against a quality team. We played them the same way earlier this year. It’s always errors, and they jump on you right away. That’s what a good team does. Our team is not as good as that team. Not even close.”

While his team was giving him plenty of insurance, Weatherholtz was stuck in the dugout for a long period of time. The first inning clocked in at just over 40 minutes.

Despite that, Weatherholtz didn’t show a speck of rust when he entered the game in the second.

The first team All-MEC honoree would go on to throw six more innings of shutout baseball, striking out three Falcons in the process.

“It’s tough,” Weatherholtz said of his time in the dugout. “It’s not fun, but it’s a good thing. I had to go warm up again, but that’s a good thing.”

“He just went out and did exactly what he does every time,” Wright said. “He gives us a chance to win. Fortunately, we scored a lot of runs and were able to execute.”

Despite jumping out to the commanding lead, Wright didn’t give his team the opportunity to relax too much, but instead kept focused on what matters most — bringing home the first ever MEC championship.

“Well. I just told them, ‘We can breathe a little bit,’” he said. “As much as we want to say that we’re a good baseball team, it’s a tournament setting. You have to come with your best game, and that’s what we showed up with.”

Concord has a history of showing up at Epling Stadium with its best game. After Thursday’s victory, the Mountain Lions are 9-0 in the playoffs at the Beckley stadium, dating back to the now defunct West Virginia Conference.

“I think you create your (own) luck,” Wright said. “I’ll take it. Our guys have played well here, because it’s a great equalizer, playing on turf. We’ve got the opportunity to jump out with a good offense. It’s playoff baseball. We talk about it around our program all the time. It’s about winning championships.

“Everything leading up to this is about putting ourselves in a position to do what we did today.”

Eight Mountain Lions collected hits in the game, with Blevins going 3-for-3 with four RBIs and a run. Seigel was 3-for-4 with three RBIs, a triple and three runs.

Concord will play tonight at 7 p.m. against West Virginia State, but it will be business as usual for the boys from Athens.

“We’re expecting to show up and hit,” Wright added. “That’s kind of our approach when we get into playoff baseball. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. All that matters is we’re playing at 7 o’clock and we’re going to play the best baseball we can.”

In other games on Thursday, regular season champion Shepherd hammered West Liberty 15-3 and West Virginia State and retiring coach Cal Bailey defeated Urbana 3-1.

Notre Dame will play West Liberty in elimination game today at 11 a.m., while Shepherd will meet Urbana at 3 p.m.

—jrollins@register-herald.com / @JDanielRollins.

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