The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

July 9, 2014

Miners begin push for second half tonight

Champion City visits Beckley for 7:05 p.m. first pitch

MORGANTOWN — Now the challenge begins.

While the Chillicothe Paints have the luxury of knowing they have locked up a spot in the Prospect League playoffs, the West Virginia Miners and the rest of the East Division must either win the second half title to get in, or finish with the best overall record should the Paints make it a clean sweep.

It won’t be easy for the Miners (22-14 overall, 4-2 second half), who will play 15 of their final 24 games on the road.

After a three-day all-star break, the season starts back up today with the first of a two-game home series with Champion City (14-19, 2-4). First pitch at Linda K. Epling Stadium will be 7:05 p.m.

Going into today, the Miners — winners of three straight — have the second-best record, trailing the Paints (23-10) by 2 1/2 games and leading Butler (21-14) by a half game. However, the BlueSox are hot and off to a 6-1 start to lead the second-half standings. The Miners and Paints (3-1) are in a virtual tie for second, both 1 1/2 games back.

Playing at home is important to the Miners, who responded to a record crowd on the Fourth of July. In front of 2,896 fans, West Virginia gathered 18 hits and posted its fifth shutout of the season in a 10-0 win over Lorain County.

“You could just tell,” Miners manager Tim Epling said. “It means so much for the crowd to be involved. It is really our 10th man. I was glad to see a good crowd witness us play good.”

The Kings have played the Miners well this season and cannot be counted out in the second half race. They trail by just three games.

All-star right fielder Jake Bennett is fifth in the league with a .325 batting average, tied for first with four triples and tied for third with nine doubles.

Tonight will be First Responders Night. All first responders — policemen and policewomen, firefighters and EMTs — will be admitted free with valid ID.

— E-mail: gfauber

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