Jake Johansen’s last game in a West Virginia Miners uniform was one neither he — nor the 795 fans at Linda K. Epling Stadium — will soon forget.
The 6-foot-6 right-hander from Dallas Baptist University, who will return to school and not be with the team for the rest of the regular season and the postseason, allowed just two hits and one earned run over eight innings, striking out 12 Chillicothe Paints hitters on the way to a 5-2 Miners win.
The hard-throwing Texan walked only four and threw 123 pitches to end the summer at 5-2 with a 3.18 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 51 innings pitched.
“I’m a little bit disappointed, but I know my future is brighter than this summer,” said Johansen, a 2012 Prospect League All-Star, of missing the final stretch. “For my last outing as a Miner, I definitely wanted to come out and give it my best shot.”
Johansen actually didn’t pick up a strikeout until his third inning of work, but once he got the first one, the Ks racked up in a hurry.
He struck out the side in the third — his only run sandwiched in between when he walked Vinnie Booker, who stole second and later scored when Jared Kujawa bounced a ball back to the pitcher.
The high chopper hit off of Johansen’s glove and dribbled into the outfield, as the speedy Booker flew to the plate for the Paints’ only run of the game.
Johansen set the next two down on strikes and then continued his dominance in the fourth, striking out the first two hitters of the inning to run his streak to four straight punchouts before Aaron Hopper grounded out to end the inning.
“I threw a lot of good cutters,” Johansen said. “I threw a little bit of the curveball, but the biggest thing I had going for me was a little more movement than usual.
“I started getting ahead of hitters, and my mindset with two strikes was to put them away.”
Reaching the mid-90s on his heater, Johansen, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 27th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, started a new streak in the sixth, getting out of a bases loaded, one-out jam with back-to-back strikeouts of Nick Lombardi and Hopper.
He got Matt Fisher and Cody Gaertner looking in the seventh for another run of four straight strikeouts, and he found his 11th and 12th Ks in his final inning, getting Jared Kujawa and Giancarlo Brugnoni, before giving way to Russ Luxton.
“Jake threw a great game,” said Miners manager Tim Epling. “He understands who he is, and he throws with a lot of confidence. Mentally, he prepares very well. When he has a bad game, he comes back strong, and that means something.”
Luxton gave up a run on a Hopper walk, a Matt Fisher double and a Gaertner RBI groundout, but it was much too late for the Paints, as the Miners celebrated a 5-2 victory.
“Our guys know we’re going into a one-game playoff (for the East Division title), and they know how important it is to play well,” said Epling. “We’re doing the little things right and staying steady.”
The Miners (37-17, 16-8 second half) only tallied nine hits in the game, but they came in the best situations.
West Virginia scored first in the bottom of the opening frame, when Gray Stafford doubled off of Chillicothe starter J.T. Miller to score Luke Meeteer, who led off the inning with an infield single.
With the game knotted at 1-all in the bottom of the third, Trey Drewery was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a Matt Chavarria single through the left side of the infield.
Meeteer grounded out to put runners at first and third, and Drewery came home on a passed ball, putting his team ahead 3-1.
Stafford, a member of the Marshall baseball team, then came through again with a single to left that scored Meeteer and gave the home team a two-run cushion.
John Spirk added some insurance with a leadoff home run over the scoreboard in left field in the bottom of the fourth, and the Miners’ final run came off Paints reliever Jack Quigley, when Bradley Strong extended his hitting streak to 17 games with an RBI single through the middle of the infield.
“We’re getting really good timely hitting and not striking out as much,” said Epling. “I think we’re peaking at the right time. Guys are having fun, and they’re coming out with a lot of energy.”
Miller, a 2012 All-Star, took the loss for Chillicothe (33-24, 15-12), falling to 5-3 on the summer. He allowed four earned runs in five innings, giving up six hits and walking three.
The Miners will host the Richmond RiverRats (30-23, 15-8) in a doubleheader today. The RiverRats and the Miners, who won the East Division’s first-half crown, are battling for the second-half title in the East.
Today’s first game, scheduled for a 5:05 p.m. start, will be the continuation of a postponed contest from July 14. The Miners will begin the game leading 4-0 in the fourth inning. The second game will begin at 7:05 p.m.
The evening has been dubbed Fan Appreciation Night, and there will be a postgame fireworks show.
W.Va. Miners 5, Chillicothe Paints 2
C: 001 000 001 — 2 3 0
WV: 102 100 10x — 5 9 1
C: J. Miller, J. Quigley (6), M. Dodakian (8) and C. Gaertner. WV: J. Johansen, R. Luxton (9) and C. Prestridge. WP — Johansen. LP — Miller. Hitting — C: J. Kujawa 1-3, D. Zuchowski 1-3, M. Fisher 1-3 (2B). WV: L. Meeteer 1-4 (2 R), B. Strong 1-2 (RBI), G. Stafford 2-3 (2 RBI, 2B), J. Spirk 1-4 R, RBI), J. Gray 1-4 (2B), T. Wells 1-3, M. Chavarria 2-3 (R, 2B).