The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 15, 2014

Miners battle back for big 5-4 win over Butler

BECKLEY — Back in early June, if the West Virginia Miners had given up four runs in the first two innings, they were more than likely going to lose.

But now the Miners have learned to shrug off bad starts, and their 5-4 victory over Butler Monday night at Linda K. Epling Stadium lifted them into first place in the Prospect League’s East Division second-half standings.

“This was nice to see, for us to battle and put ourselves in a position to win it,” manager Tim Epling said. “We’re a completely different team than what we were the first 15 or 20 games this year.”

While West Virginia (8-3 second half, 26-15 overall) had good pitching and defense from the outset, the bats were slow to come around.

That’s certainly changed. They have hit well the second half, and had eight hits against Butler.

“We’re starting to click,” said second baseman Ryan Perkins (.345), who had three hits on the night, including a two-run double in the seventh. “At the beginning of the season, everybody had butterflies. Now we’re swinging it good.”

Zach Woolcock had two hits, and Paul Trenhaile, Mike Brosseau and Taylor Kellner drove in runs.

“My hat’s off to coach (Steve) Crosier for what he’s doing with our hitters,” Epling said. “He’s worked really hard with them, and now we’re seeing the benefits.”

Butler (8-4) started strong, getting a two-run double from Nick Sell in a three-run first inning. The BlueSox added an unearned run in the second when Taylor Schmidt singled and later scored on an infield error.

Reliever Dalton Thompson (2-0) replaced starter Abe Cartledge with two outs and two on in the third and pitched the next 4 1/3 innings. He kept Butler off the scoreboard, giving up just one hit while walking three batters.

West Virginia got two runs back in the second on hits by Woolcock and Trenhaile, but left the bases loaded in the third.

Thompson and Blue Sox starter Denis Lyman dominated the middle innings, but West Virginia finally broke out of its doldrums in the seventh.

Griffin Moore and Grant Massey drew walks, and Perkins ripped a double to right-center off reliever Kyle Zaorski (0-1), scoring both runners.

“I’ve been squaring some balls up, and I’m glad some of them fell in,” Perkins said. “I’m glad to have had the opportunity to drive those guys in. All the guys can do it. I just happened to be the one.”

David Martinelli followed with a walk, Woolcock singled  and Brosseau singled to right to bring in Martinelli with what proved the winning run.

Relievers J.T. Trujillo and Dalton Curtis pitched an inning apiece to close out the game for the Miners.

“We’re really struggling with our starting pitchers. We’re down to two, possibly three,” Epling said. “I’m glad to see everybody come in and throw strikes.”

West Virginia and Butler will square off again at 7:05 p.m. today at Linda K. Epling Stadium.

Perkins, from the University of South Carolina-Sumter, will be glad to be back in front of the Beckley fans.

“It’s awesome here. This is a great set-up. It really gives everyone a chance to get better day in and day out,” he said. “But the thing I like most is all the people are so nice.”

— E-mail: dstillwell@

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