Photos By Tina Laney
Wednesday night, the Prospect League opener between West Virginia and Johnstown turned into a marathon at Linda K. Epling Stadium.
The Mill Rats never ran out of gas.
Taking advantage of 14 walks, combined with 10 hits, Johnstown breezed past the Miners for a 14-5 win.
“We had too many 3-2 and 2-2 counts and too many walks. It was a four-hour game,” Miners manager Tim Epling said. “(Our pitchers) got to see how patient (Johnstown) was going to be and they were just going to make us throw, throw throw. If we would have come in throwing strikes, it would have been a different approach. We weren’t able to change their approach.”
Before the walks started to mount up, Johnstown jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning on a single from Lukas Torres that scored two runs. Torres later scored on a throwing error while stealing third base.
The Miners got one run back in the bottom of the inning, but the Mill Rats never let off the accelerator all night.
A run-scoring triple from Joe Alcorn and a wild pitch gave Johnstown a 5-1 advantage through four innings.
“When you have a game like this, it is a great learning game. It lets them see things in a different way,” Epling said. “We just have to get all the kinks out. Even when it got out of hand, guys were taking pitches and getting good swings on the balls.”
Leading 5-2, Johnstown started to pull away in the sixth by applying more two our damage.
With the Miners poised to escape the big inning needing just one more out, Sam Mast doubled home two runs and Matt Santarelli’s single scored two more.
After the 3-0 lead, the Mill Rats scored the next six runs with two outs.
The bright spot for West Virginia came in the bottom of the sixth inning when Marshall University product Eddie Leon hit a moonshot over the left field fence for a two-run home run.
The Mill Rats put the game away with 5 runs in the final two frames on just three hits.
“I have won a few on opening day and I have lost a few on opening day. Right now it doesn’t matter, we are just trying to feel it all out, plus we have so many players that just got into town,” Epling said. “Today was the first time I was really able to see our pitching. You can watch them throw in the bullpen, but the game is so much different on the field. We will be able to work on things and we will get after it.”
Mast finished the night with a pair of doubles and four RBI, while Torres drove in three runs to lead the Mill Rats. Blake Lazaris had a pair of doubles and an RBI for the Miners.
The two teams will meet again Thursday for a 6:35 p.m. start at Linda K. Epling Stadium.
JMR: 003 204 023 – 14 10 3
WVM: 001 012 001 – 5 7 1
Hitting – JMR: Lukas Torres 1-5 (3 rbi), Sam Mast 2-4 (2 2b, 4 rbi), Andrew Kribbs 1-5 (2 rbi), Matt Santarelli 2-5 (2 rbi), Nolan Beugeling 1-6, Asher Cori 1-4, Joe Alcorn 2-3 (3b, rbi); WVM: Barrett Rieback104 (rbi), Blake Lazaris 2-5 (2 2b, rbi), Collin Jensen 1-3 (3b, rbi), Stephen Karis 1-4, Josh Griffin 1-4, Eddie Leon 1-4 (HR, 2 rbi)