West Virginia sinks Trenton in sudden death for series win
August 14, 2022 – Major League Baseball Draft League (MLBDL) – West Virginia Black Bears Press Release
TRENTON, NJ – Sunday afternoon in Trenton, New Jersey, West Virginia won the game and the series against the Trenton Thunder by sudden death after finishing the game tied 3-3. Pitcher Grayson Thurman and the Black Bears defense kept the Thunder from scoring in the sudden death inning to secure the win. Ryan Hernandez led West Virginia’s offense and recorded his 10th home run of the season with a two RBI shot to center field to break the MLB Draft League single-season record.
After losing control in a tight game Saturday night, the Black Bears defense rebounded today and dominated for eight innings. Highlighted by a 1-6-3 double play, the Bears defense kept the Thunder off the board until the bottom of the first inning. Despite a first single for the Thunder, West Virginia exited the inning safely tied 0-0.
Starting pitcher Patrick Miner began his dominant performance early in the game as he hit two of his nine strikeouts late in the second inning.
West Virginia’s offense finally found its footing in the top of the third inning with Ryan Hernandez firing his 10th homer of the season off the right field wall. The two-run homer brought home 2B Maddox Houghton and gave West Virginia a 2-0 lead.
The Bears’ solid defensive play continued through the third and fourth innings as Miner added two more strikeouts to his total for four strikeouts in four innings pitched.
In the top of the fifth, West Virginia extended its lead to three points. A single from SS Anthony Stehlin and the walk of OF Turner Hill by Trenton starter Christian Capuano put two runners on base. With Stehlin in the scoring position, 2B Maddux Houghton fired a fly ball into left field to tackle the shortstop and give the Black Bears a 3-0 lead midway through the game.
Trenton reached home plate for the first time in the bottom of the seventh inning, thanks to a hit combination for Trenton’s LF Christian Merriweather and 2B Dilan Espinal. A sacrifice fly from 3B Damian Yenzi later in the set scored a run for Trenton to cut the Bears’ lead to two.
Unfortunately for West Virginia, Trenton’s bats finally came to life in the bottom of the ninth inning. An Espinal groundout scored pinch hitter Jonathan Waite, while an RF Paul Coumoulos single drove in the Thunder’s pinch hitter Mark Herron to tie the game at three runs. Black Bears closest Grayson Thurman finished the inning with a strikeout to send the game into sudden death.
In the first sudden death of the season in Trenton, New Jersey, the Thunder opted to strike, counting on their offense to send the Bears home with a series loss. After a Trenton batter was ejected early, Thurman retired the last two batters of the night to give West Virginia the win.
With his two-run home run, Ryan Hernandez broke the MLB Draft League single-season home run record. The previous record of nine home runs was set by Frederick Keys hitter Jake Plastiak in 2021. The University of Houston alum now leads the league in hits (49), home runs (10 ) and hit percentage (0.631).
Also, Maddux Houghton recorded his seventh straight game with a hit as he drove in the other inning for the Black Bears. Houghton finished the night with two hits, a run and an RBI.
On the defensive end, Patrick Miner had one of his best outings yet as he struck out nine Thunder batters in seven innings pitched. Reliever Kanan Butler scored a scoreless inning for the Bears before Grayson Thurman slammed the door in the sudden death inning.
The West Virginia Black Bears improve to 37-23 in the 2022 campaign as they remain in first place in the MLB Draft League standings. The Black Bears begin their final six-game home game of the season on Tuesday night with a three-game series against the Frederick Keys. Tuesday’s first pitch is set for 6:35 p.m.
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