Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

April 27, 2014

Weatherholtz handcuffs West Liberty, Concord earns sweep

ATHENS — The Concord University Mountain Lions got a two-hit shutout from Ryan Weatherholtz in the opener and a three-run homer from Brett Blevins in the nightcap to sweep the West Liberty Hilltoppers in Mountain East Conference baseball action Saturday afternoon at Anderson Field.

The Lions took the opener 11-0, then came from behind for an 9-5 victory in game two.

There was a dual storyline in game one — Weatherholtz’s strong pitching and the Lions’ explosive bats which rapped out 13 hits.

“I think we are putting everything together, finally, which is nice to see, said Concord head coach Andrew Wright. “Our guys have the confidence that when Ryan is on the mound we give him a few runs and we’ll be fine. Fortunately a few turned into a lot.”

CU’s leadoff hitter Jerrod Groves got things started with a double to deep left. Bret Blevins had a Texas League double to right to put runners on second and third and both crossed the plate when Joey Miller’s shot to third resulted in an error.

WLSU’s Tim Miranda opened the second with a single to left and the Hilltoppers got another runner aboard on a Concord error, but the visitors did not score.

From the last batter of the second inning until the second hitter in the top of the seventh and last inning, West Liberty batters went to the plate, then back to the dugout with their bat. Weatherholtz retired 14 in a row before Mike Johnson singled to center with one out in the seventh. The Mountain Lion senior then retired the next two hitters, the final via strikeout, his eighth of the game and team high 50th of the season, to pick up the win.

While Weatherholtz was working his magic on the mound, the CU bats were scoring run. Two more came across in the third, both on a double by Brandon Costa.

Concord struck for three in the fourth as Andrew Seigel walked and Blevins was hit by a pitch. Miller then hit a towering home run to center to push the home lead to 7-0.

The Lions weren’t finished roaring as they added four more in the fifth off newly entered pitcher Tory Fuscardo, who took the ball from starter Mark Smyth who worked the first five frames. Blevins had an RBI sac fly and Miller drove two more home with a two-run double to the left-center gap. Joe Camp drove home Miller with a two-out double.

Miller finished with two hits and five RBIs. Groves and Costa each had three hits and Camp had a pair of doubles to lead the CU hit parade.

Weatherholtz grabbed the victory while Smyth suffered the loss.

“I was great, it was easy because I knew they were going to hit,” Weatherholtz said. “Just command the strike zone and throw strikes, that’s all I really had to do.

Weatherholtz said as post-season time draws near, the Mountain Lions are focused and ready for whatever opposition they may face.

“We always come alive right at the end which is always a good thing,” Weatherholtz said. “No one is going to complain about getting hot going into the tournament. We’ve got one more series (next weekend vs. UVa-Wise) to go and we’re really focused on that.”

Game two saw West Liberty jump out to a quick lead against Concord pitcher Tyler Coyle. Five hits and a CU error allowed four runs to score in the first. The big hit was a two-out, two-run single by Josh Nagel.

Concord began to claw back in the bottom of the first. Seigel reached on an error, Blevins was hit by a pitch and Miller walked to load the bases. Ryan Johnston hit into a fielder’s choice to score Seigel with Concord’s first run.

The Lions roared in the bottom of the second. Charles Goss got a one-out single and wild pitches moved him to third before Seigel singled him home. Enter Blevins. With Groves, who had walked, on second and Seigel on first, Blevins powered a 1-1 pitch over the fence in left for a three-run home run that gave Concord a 5-4 lead, an advantage it would not relinquish.

After the first, Coyle settled down, allowing only a second inning walk before Clay Francis and D.J. Busby had back-to-back  singles in the fourth. Busby later scored on Jon-Michael Brunner’s hit to left.

Concord added three insurance runs in the fourth as Johnston and Camp picked up RBIs, Johnston’s on a force out and Camp’s on a single. Johnston later came around to score on an error.

The Lions’ final run came in the sixth, an RBI by Camp as he grounded into a double play.

Coyle picked up the win. The southpaw worked six innings, gave up five runs, only one earned, on eight hits, walked two and struck out four. Chris Baker pitched the seventh and gave up a double to Johnson.

“I stuck with him (Coyle) for a long time because he has the ability to rebound from something like that (start),” Wright said. “He’s very level headed. I knew that as long as we were going to score runs we would be fine and fortunately we put ourselves in a good situation.”

West Liberty starter Dylan Grosul suffered the defeat. He pitched three-and-one-third innings, gave up seven runs on six hits, walked five and struck out one before giving way to Sean Pare who worked the final two-and-two thirds for the Hilltoppers.

Seigel and Blevins each had a pair of hits for the Mountain Lions and Blevins knocked home three runs. Johnston and Camp had two RBIs apiece.

With the wins Concord improved to 31-13 overall and 28-10 in the MEC. West Liberty dropped to 22-21 in all games and 19-15 in league play. The games were Concord’s first in 27 days on their home diamond.

“We love playing at home,” Wright commented. “We put a lot of pride in being able to play in front of the home fans. It was nice to get out and play on Anderson Field once again.”

The two teams wrap up their four game series today with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. at Anderson Field.

— Contact Bob Redd at bredd@bdtonline.com and on Twitter @bdtredd

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