Like most teams in the Prospect League, West Virginia and Chillicothe have had good players, particularly pitchers, called back early by their college coaches.
From all indications Thursday at Linda K. Epling Stadium, others are stepping up for both teams.
Trying to end a three-game losing streak, West Virginia’s Quinton Yocum and Kolin Stanley combined on a five-hitter against visiting Chillicothe.
Problem was, the Paints got a four-hitter from five different hurlers and held on to an early lead for a 2-1 win.
“All the teams are playing hard, and these guys are good college players,” Miners interim manager Joe Goddard said. “They’re competitive. Every team will play up until the last out.”
West Virginia starter Quinton Yokum (4-5) pitched superbly, allowing the Paints just five hits over seven innings.
One of the hits, however, was a second-inning blast over the left-center field fence by first baseman Giancarlo Brugnoni.
The Grand Valley State University junior bats only .198, and has struck out 62 times, including twice Thursday. But he leads the Prospect League with eight home runs, and has 23 RBIs.
“It was a good pitch,” Goddard said. “It was down. (Brugnoni) just hit it.”
The Paints’ other run came in the third inning, when Yocum walked the No. 9 batter, Vinnie Booker, and then surrendered singles to Jossue Delgado and Daniel Zuchowski.
Yokum finished strong, fanning six of the next 14 batters he faced. The only baserunner, Nick Lombardi, walked.
“I thought he did a great job,” Goddard said. “We were going to throw him just six or seven innings, and we got seven from him.”
Stanley relieved Yokum to open the eighth and was sharp, fanning five of seven batters.
West Virginia’s offense couldn’t quite catch fire, however. The Miners got four hits through the first five innings off Chillicothe starter Chris Thomas, but managed just one run.
They scored in the fourth, when Griffin Moore walked, stole second base and scored on a bloop single to right by Zach Woolcock.
The rally was squelched, however, when Woolcock was thrown out at third trying to advance on a grounder hit to the Paints’ shortstop.
Two other Miners, Pat Kregelow and Doug Votolato, were thrown out at second base.
Kregelow tried to catch the Chillicothe defense sleeping after he had reached on a bloop single in the first inning. Thomas fired to shortstop Justin Wagler for the out.
Catcher James Miglin gunned down Votolato on a steal attempt in the fifth.
Reliever Zach Wolfe (1-1) relieved Thomas with one out in the fourth and ended the Miners’ rally. David Frederick, Grege Greve and Andrew Marra also had stints on the mound and did not allow the Miners a hit.
A win for West Virginia, combined with a loss by second-place Butler, would have clinched the East Division title.
The Blue Sox were tied 0-0 with Lorain County going into the 17th inning at press time.
If Butler lost, the Miners could still clinch the pennant tonight when they host the Paints again at 7:05 p.m.
Kevin Johnstone (3-2, 3.57 ERA) will be on the mound for West Virginia.
Goddard, standing in for manager Tim Epling (away because of a family illness), said the Miners are playing well, despite the losses.
“We’re in 3-2, 4-3, 2-1 games, and we’re just giving up four or five hits,” he said. “The only thing is, we’re just getting four or five.
“We’re playing extremely hard, and we’ve played well. But the teams in this league are good. If you look through the whole season, the games have been like this.”
— E-mail: dstillwell
Chillicothe Paints 2, West Virginia Miners 1
CP: 011 000 000 — 2 5 0
WVM: 000 100 000 — 1 4 0
CP: Chris Thomas, Zach Wolfe (4), David Frederick (6), Greg Greve 98), Andrew Marra (9) and James Miglin, WVM: Quinton Yocum, Kolin Stanley (8) and Josh Galvan. WP — Wolfe. LP — Yocum. S — Marra. Hitting — CP: Jossue Delgado 1-4, Daniel Zuchowski 1-4, James Miglin 1-4, Giancarlo Brugnoni 1-4 (r, rbi, HR), Nick Lombardi 1-3, Vinnie Booker 0-2 (r), WVM: Douglas Votolato 1-3 (3b), Pat Kregeloh 1-4, Griffin Moore 1-3 (r), Zach Woolcock 1-4 (rbi).
Records: WVM (35-22); CP (32-25).