The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 22, 2013

Another shutout as Miners blast Ironmen

By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor

BECKLEY — You know things are going well for a pitcher when he lowers his earned run average — which was already well below one — in his shortest outing of the season.

Jaesung Hwang, on a strict pitch count, didn’t make it out of the fifth inning. But he continued a season-long trend, not allowing an earned run in the West Virginia Miners’ 10-0 win Sunday that completed a two-game sweep of the Lorain County Ironmen.

Hwang was on a 75-pitch limit, and his walk of Nate Langhals with two out in the fifth came on his 74th. He exited without qualifying for the win, but his ERA tumbled to 0.36.

“He’s on a pitch limit, so we’ll talk about some things,” Miners manager Tim Epling said. “He threw (nearly) five good innings. He doesn’t know this, but we may have to move him to middle relief (because of the pitch count). If he’s throwing 75 pitches a game, get him in the fifth, sixth inning and keep riding it out. He can do both.”

Hwang, a rising junior at Lipscomb University, allowed three hits over 4 2-3 innings. He struck out six and walked two.

Josh James (1-0) relieved Hwang and got the win in his Miners debut. The Western Oklahoma State College right-hander struck out two and walked one without allowing a hit in 1 1-3 innings.

The Miners’ streak of innings without allowing a run ran to 26. They have posted three consecutive shutouts, and lead the league with nine.

“Those zeroes look awful nice, I’ll tell you that,” Epling said. “I’m enjoying the ride.”

The streak appeared in serious jeopardy in the top of the seventh when West Virginia reliever Will Thomas walked the first three batters he faced. But he got Scott Splett to pop out to first, struck out Isaac Smith looking and got Billy Salem to fly out to center field and preserve the streak.

Smith had words for home plate umpire Dan Bishop and was ejected after striking out, and could face disciplinary action from the league — he flipped his bat, which ended up at Bishop’s feet.

Thomas retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced to close out the game.

The Miners (32-16), who have won five straight, are five games ahead of Butler in the Prospect League East Division standings. The BlueSox (27-21) defeated Richmond 4-0 Sunday.

West Virginia’s magic number to clinch the division is eight.

Chillicothe (25-21) is in third place, six games behind West Virginia, after a 7-3 loss at Slippery Rock. The Paints have lost four straight.

West Virginia’s offense more than complemented the pitching this time around. The Miners pounded out 13 hits, four of them for extra bases.

“If you take a look, we’re hitting doubles,” Epling said. “We weren’t trying to pull the ball. We were trying to hit it backside and find the gap. We weren’t trying to do too much, just hit the ball solid. I’m glad to see that.”

Pat Kregeloh’s two-run double put the Miners ahead 2-0 in the first. Kenny May scored on Kaeo Aliviado’s double to the right field corner to make it 3-0 in the third.

Lorain County starter Jake Post was chased after not being able to get an out in the fifth.

Evan Potter singled to right to lead it off and scored on a double by Douglas Votolato. May then doubled to score Votolato and end the night for Post.

Ironmen reliever Andrew Fanning got two straight outs, but walked Kregeloh and allowed a run-scoring single to Nick Paxton to make the score 6-0.

Post (1-3) struck out five and walked one, but allowed seven hits and was charged with six earned runs.

Aliviado’s bases-clearing double highlighted a four-run sixth for the Miners.

May reached base in all five of his plate appearances. He was 2-for-3 with two walks and reached on a fielder’s choice in the eighth.

The Miners are off today before starting a four-game road trip Tuesday at Richmond. The first of the two-game set will start at 7:05 p.m., with Ryan Perez (2-0, 2.84 ERA) the probable starter.

— E-mail: gfauber@