By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
The no-brainer became official on Friday.
West Virginia Miners pitcher Jaesung Hwang was selected the starting pitcher for the East Division in the Prospect League All-Star game, the league announced Friday. The game is scheduled for Tuesday, July 17, at Pullman Park in Butler, Pa.
Hwang was one of three Miners voted in as starters by league managers. Kaeo Aliviado will be the starting left fielder and Zach Woolcock will start at third baseman.
Utility player Pat Kregeloh made the team as a reserve.
Hwang has had an incredible summer thus far for the Miners, who were on a nine-game winning streak and held a two-game lead over Chillicothe in the East Division going into Friday’s game at Slippery Rock. The right-hander from Lipscomb University is 4-1 with a league-leading 0.49 earned run average.
He didn’t allow an earned run until last Sunday’s 5-2 win at Lorain County.
In 37 innings pitched, Hwang has allowed just 19 hits — 17 of them singles — and opponents are batting .153 against him. He has 30 strikeouts to a mere three walks.
“With those numbers, you can’t deny what he has done,” Miners manager Tim Epling said. “He deserves to be there.
“He has four pitches (fastball, cutter, curveball and slider) that he throws for strikes on any count. That’s what makes him so good. Whether the count is 3-1 or 2-0 or whatever, he understands what he can do to mess with hitters’ timing.”
Aliviado and Woolcock are the league’s top two hitters. Aliviado, a University of Hawaii product, was hitting .393 going into Friday. The leadoff hitter has seven doubles and has scored 24 runs.
Woolcock, a rising sophomore at Radford, was batting .368 with three homers and 21 runs batted in. He also has seven doubles and a triple.
“Kaeo can make it work from the left side of the plate and the right side,” Epling said. “He has been one of the most consistent hitters we have. He doesn’t just hit to one part; he goes to all fields. He takes good swings at pitches, and that’s what makes him so consistent.”
Woolcock has played four positions for the Miners — third base, first base, right field and pitcher.
“He is one guy who gives us pop in the gap,” Epling said. “When we started the season he had to get his timing down for about the first week, but he has been so consistent. What makes things so tough on him is when we started he was hitting fourth and then we moved him to third. Teams see that and try to pitch around him. For him to stay as hot as he has been is remarkable.”
Kregeloh, a product of Division II Shippensburg, is one of several West Virginia position players who can also pitch. He is hitting .281 with three homers and 22 RBIs, and is 1-1 on the mound with a 5.65 ERA.
“He hits the ball hard,” Epling said. “He can do everything — pitch, play the corners, he’s a good hitter and a good bunter. He is probably the best all-around athlete we have.”
Epling was supposed to manage the East all-stars but will not be able because of family concerns. In his place will be Anthony Rebyanski of the host BlueSox.
The game will start at 7:05 p.m., right after the Home Run Derby set to start at 5 p.m. Gates will open at 2:30 p.m., with players going through a pro scout workout at 3 p.m.
A postgame fireworks show will close the festivities.
The winning team will secure home-field advantage for its division in the league championship series in August.
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