The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

May 6, 2014

First-ever MEC baseball champ to be crowned in Beckley

BECKLEY — History was made in Beckley a year ago. It will happen again in five days.

The first-ever Mountain East Conference baseball tournament will begin Thursday at Linda K. Epling Stadium. The top six teams in the conference standings qualified for the tournament, which will culminate with the crowning of the inaugural champion on Sunday.

Concord went down as the last West Virginia Conference champion last May. The league disbanded and most helped form the MEC before the start of the 2013-14 academic year.

Vying for the historic title will be Shepherd, Concord, West Virginia State, Urbana, Notre Dame College and West Liberty. Here is a look at each first-round matchup:

n No. 1 seed Shepherd (37-10 overall, 35-7 MEC) vs. No. 6 West Liberty (26-23, 23-18), 11 a.m. Thursday. The Rams come in with the league’s best offense with a .334 team average, and have clubbed 27 home runs. Michael Lott is batting .423 to lead the conference, while Spencer Wolfe (.401) has seven home runs and 49 runs batted in. Shepherd also puts pressure on the defense, stealing 136 bases out of 168 attempts. The Rams have the conference’s top pitching staff as well, with an earned run average of 3.43. Senior left-hander Paul Hvozdovic is 10-0 with a 1.42 ERA. He has 87 strikeouts and just five walks in 76 innings.

The Hilltoppers have struggled at the plate, hitting .257 and averaging just 3.6 runs per game. D.J. Busby is batting .349. Pitcher Mark Smyth is 5-3 with a 2.85 ERA. West Liberty is second in the league in defense.

n No. 2 Concord (36-14, 33-11) vs. No. 5 Notre Dame College (24-20, 22-17), 3 p.m. Thursday. The Mountain Lions have tied the school mark for wins in a season set in last year’s run to the WVIAC title. They are second in the league in hitting (.331), third in pitching (3.70) and first in defense. Joey Miller, who on Monday was named MEC Hitter of the Week, is fifth in batting average (.395) and first in homers (12), doubles (17), RBIs (68) and total bases (117). Bret Blevins is second with a .411 average. Senior Ryan Weatherholtz (7-4, 2.83) leads the pitching staff on a team that is 8-0 in the postseason at Epling Stadium.

Notre Dame College is coached by former major league pitcher Len Barker, who pitched a perfect game for the Cleveland Indians against Toronto in 1981. The Falcons are next to last in the league in hitting (.249). Pitcher Matt Kastelic is 7-4 and Jake Welch 7-3, with matching ERAs of 2.80.

n No. 3 West Virginia State (30-16, 26-14) vs. No. 4 Urbana (23-19, 20-14), 7 p.m. Thursday. W.Va. State legend Cal Bailey will retire at season’s end, so his last game in the Mountain State will be played in Beckley. Bailey has won over 1,000 games and 17 WVC championships in his 36-year career. As always, he brings one of the top teams into the playoffs. The Yellowjackets are third in offense (.324), second in pitching (3.47) and fourth in defense. Jack Hudson (.371) and Anthony Payne (.358) are 11th and 12th in the conference. Tyler Hall is fourth with a 2.76 ERA and is 7-2 on the year.

The Blue Knights, fourth in the league in hitting (.303), bring back to Beckley catcher Robert Tavone Jr., who played for the West Virginia Miners last summer. Tavone is hitting .255 and has driven in 20 runs. Matt Paculan is sixth in the league with a .388 average. Nick Bozman is 6-4 with a 2.85 ERA.

— E-mail: gfauber@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter@GaryFauber.

1
Text Only
Latest Sports
  • Steelers to retire Hall of Famer Greene's No. 75

    The Pittsburgh Steelers are retiring Hall of Fame defensive end Joe Greene's number No. 75.

    July 30, 2014

  • Steelers' Bell looking for more decisive, productive season

    Le'Veon Bell kept watching the tape over and over, equal parts pleased and puzzled by what he saw.

    July 30, 2014

  • Charges dropped against WVU RB Smallwood

    Prosecutors said all charges against 20-year-old Wendell Smallwood, who had been charged with witness tampering in the case, have been dropped.

    July 30, 2014

  • cato Word is out on Marshall's Cato

    Rakeem Cato is easily the face of Marshall football. He also has been mentioned as a darkhorse candidate for the Heisman Trophy. That status is legitimate.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • bush Bush making Saints look good

    For his first four seasons, Rafael Bush was simply looking to land on a roster — any roster.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Practice, not temps, heats up for Saints
    The temperatures may have only been in the low 70s Tuesday afternoon at the Saints new practice facility at The Greenbrier, but now a third of the way into the 15 practices, it’s clear that the heat has turned up with playing time and positions on the line.

    July 30, 2014

  • Bowles has a support system
    Colin Bowles, the 14-year-old little brother of Corey, is coming into his own as a successful athlete. The younger Bowles competed last week at the U.S. Junior Amateur in The Woodlands, Texas, making the cut before bowing out in match play. Right there beside Colin, as he has been his entire life, was older brother Corey,

    July 30, 2014

  • Terre Haute hands Miners 2-1 loss in 11 innings

    Ryan Sabo singled home Clayton Smithson in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Rex to the win and put the West Virginia Miners’ postseason hopes in serious jeopardy

    July 30, 2014

  • WVU’s Smallwood waives preliminary hearing

    West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood, arrested on a felony charge of witness intimidation in a first-degree murder case, waived his preliminary hearing Monday, his case now being moved to Superior Court, where more serious crimes are argued, according to The News Journal.

    July 29, 2014

  • Steelers LB Spence caps lengthy comeback

    The whistle blew and Sean Spence sprinted forward, each cathartic step distancing the linebacker from the horrific knee injury that threatened to end his NFL career before it even really began.

    July 29, 2014

Saints Training Camp