FAIRMONT — The West Virginia Black Bears piled up five runs in the sixth inning to roll past Williamsport, 6-2, on the road Thursday for their second-consecutive victory.
With a road win over Auburn to cap its prior road series, combined with Thursday’s win to open its series versus Williamsport, West Virginia is now two games above .500 at 11-9 on the season. The 11-9 mark is fourth in the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney Division as of Thursday afternoon.
The loss drops Williamsport to 4-16 on the season, the worst record in the 14-team New York-Penn League by a full three games. Williamsport is now 4-2 versus the Black Bears this season.
The Crosscutters actually took a team no-hit bid into the top of the sixth, where the Black Bears churned out five runs on five hits to take a 5-2 lead. Williamsport starter Leonel Aponte retired 12 of the 13 batters he saw in his four innings of work, with Black Bears left fielder Brett Kinneman the lone base runner he allowed on a hit-by-pitch in the top of the first. Aponte, who neither walked nor struck out a West Virginia batter, finished the day with 40 total pitches, 29 of which were strikes.
Brian Marconi, out of George Mason, relieved Aponte to start the fifth, where he worked a 1-2-3 frame, including a strikeout to end the inning. In the sixth, however, Marconi was dinged for four hits and five runs, just two of which were earned, as he took the loss on the day.
West Virginia’s Luke Mangieri put the first base runner on in the sixth when he reached on a throwing error on a ball hit to third. Dean Lockery then followed with a line drive single on a 1-0 count to put runners on the corners for shortstop Cory Wood. Wood singled to right field, scoring Mangieri to tie the game at 1-1 with Williamsport taking an initial 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth.
A double by Jared Triolo to center and one-out single by Matt Gorski to right brought across two more runs, chasing Marconi from the game. Tyler Burch entered for Williamsport in an attempt to mitigate the damage with two on and just one out, but a sacrifice fly RBI by Matthew Frazier and two-out RBI single by Blake Sabol ballooned West Virginia’s lead to 5-1 before Mangieri flew out in his second at-bat of the inning to finally stop the damage.
Williamsport threatened to get a few runs back in the frame’s bottom half off West Virginia reliever Francis Del Orbe who came on for starter Michael Burrows. Williamsport’s McCarthy Tatum whacked a one-out double to put a runner in scoring position, but Del Orbe posted back-to-back strikeouts to escape without any harm done.
Both teams stranded a pair of runners over the seventh and eighth innings before West Virginia added an insurance run in the top of the ninth when Wood hit a ground ball RBI single to score Mangieri who led off the inning with a double to center.
Wood, who’s now batting .220 this season, went 2-for-5 with a run scored and pair of RBIs. Lockery, who went 2-for-3 with a walk, and Gorski, who went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI also posted multiple-hit outings. Mangieri, who’s now up to a .286 average on the season, Triolo, and Sabol also had a hit apiece.
Tatum, D.J. Stewart and Hunter Hearn each had two hits apiece for Williamsport.
Burrows took home the win on the mound for West Virginia, improving his record to 2-1 this season in four starts. Burrows tossed five innings of one-run ball in which he allowed five hits and a walk to go with five strikeouts. The five innings of work, which was comprise of 76 pitches, including 45 strikes, tied Burrows’ longest outing of the season, with the 19-year-old right-hander also throwing five innings in his season debut on June 17 against Williamsport ironically. Burrows threw five-shutout innings in that start, allowing just two hits with five strikeouts. Three of his four starts this season have come against Williamsport.
For the season, Burrows has thrown 15.2 innings with a 4.60 ERA and 10 walks versus 18 strikeouts, which leads the team.
Collectively, West Virginia’s pitching staff has posted a 4.03 ERA over 174 innings this season, with the 4.03 ERA ranking 13th out of the New York-Penn League’s 14 teams.
West Virginia will be back in action today at 7 p.m. for the second game of its three-game road series against Williamsport.