By Cam Huffman
Joe Goddard’s days of making the decisions out of a baseball dugout were supposed to be finished.
The longtime Independence High School coach retired at the end of the 2012 baseball season after an ultra-successful career.
Baseball, though, wasn’t out of Goddard’s blood. He stayed on as an assistant for the West Virginia Miners, spending his summers in the dugout at Linda K. Epling Stadium with the defending Prospect League champions.
And when Miners head coach Tim Epling had to miss his team’s recent road trip to face the Richmond RiverRats because of a family medical issue, Goddard once again was put in charge.
“I wish that he could be here with us, but I’ve really enjoyed coaching the Miners during the summer,” said Goddard.
His time calling the shots shouldn’t last long. Epling is hopeful he’ll be back in uniform tonight when his team begins a two-game home series with the Chillicothe Paints. If not, Goddard said he’s
comfortable with the job until Epling returns.
“Really, all I’m doing different is coaching third base,” said Goddard, who will still play an important role as the bench coach when Epling returns. “But I’ve coached third base plenty of times.
“I have some of the coaches telling me things and giving me different scenarios, which is what I do for Tim when he’s here.”
Here’s a look at what happened over the weekend with Goddard in charge, as well as a glance ahead to an important home series.
It was all Miners Saturday night in Richmond, Ind., as the visitors pounded out 13 hits and scored eight runs over the first four frames on their way to a 9-0 rout. Pat Kregeloh, the Prospect League Hitter
of the Week, stayed hot, going 2-for-4 with a homer.
The West Virginia arms, though, were the big story as three combined for a shutout.
David Hess did the bulk of the damage, pitching seven shutout innings.
He allowed only six hits, walking one and striking out four. Brandon Koch and Vince Bartolone finished it off with a scoreless inning each.
“Everything just fell into place,” said Goddard. “We had good pitching, and we swung the bats well.”
Sunday’s results weren’t nearly as positive for Miners fans. Ahead 8-6 after six innings — after coming back from a 2-0 hole — and still clinging to an 8-7 advantage in the ninth, West Virginia couldn’t complete the deal.
Richmond’s Jason Blum was hit by a Bartolone pitch to begin the inning, and after getting two outs, Koch gave up a walk-off home run to the RiverRats’ Ted Williams — not that one; this one hails from
Harper Woods, Mich. — as the home team won 9-8.
The longball spoiled a good night at the plate that saw Zach Woolcock go 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and Robert Tavone Jr. go 1-for-3 with a 2-run homer.
“I was really proud of the guys,” said Goddard. “We fell behind early and came back. The outcome was just one of those things that happens sometimes in baseball.”
The Miners will be looking to shake off the late-inning collapse tonight when they begin a two-game series at home against the Paints at 7:05 p.m.
The Miners (9-9), two games back in the East, split a pair against rival Chillicothe (11-7) last week. The Paints are tied with the Butler BlueSox for the Prospect League East Division lead.
“After watching them last week, I know they’re a strong baseball team,” said Goddard. “We’re going to have to come to play, and hopefully we can get some good pitching.”
Tonight’s game will be Two for Tuesday Night. Anyone who purchases a ticket will get a second ticket free. It will also be Baseball Bingo night at Linda K. Epling Stadium.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.