By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
It’s no secret what has carried the West Virginia Miners through the season.
Evin Einhardt and Kolin Stanley combined on the Miners’ second straight shutout, and West Virginia added more distance in the East Division race with a 2-0 win over the Lorain County Ironmen on Saturday at Linda K. Epling Stadium.
West Virginia (31-16) is now five games ahead of Chillicothe and Butler, both of which lost Saturday night. The Miners have 13 games to play, including today’s series finale against the Ironmen (17-28).
Miners pitchers have not allowed a run in 19 innings and lead the Prospect League with eight shutouts and a 2.71 staff earned run average.
“I’m proud of my pitching staff (and) my team right now,” said manager Tim Epling, who returned to the team after missing two games because of family concerns. “Lorain County is, in my judgment, one of the better hitting teams in the league. And for us to be able to hold them down is a testament to how well we’re pitching right now.”
Einhardt (3-1) settled in after a slow start and limited Lorain to five hits in 7 2-3 innings. He was lifted in the eighth after allowing a two-out single to Scott Splett.
Stanley came in and struck out Isaac Smith looking to end the inning.
Einhardt struck out four and walked two and lowered his ERA to 0.98.
“He pitched last week (against Slippery Rock) and I thought he struggled a little bit,” Epling said. “Today he came out and really made some good adjustments. At the end he started pounding his fastball a little bit more. He did a fine job pitching.”
Stanley pitched a perfect ninth for his third save of the season.
The defense helped Einhardt with two double plays, and shortstop Evan Potter fielded a ball hit up the middle, spun and gunned down Rey Carrion to end the second.
In the fourth, Smith reached on an error by West Virginia third baseman Pat Kregeloh to lead things off. He stole second and advanced to third on a groundout.
Kregeloh made up for his error on the next play. Zach Ratcliff grounded to third and Smith immediately broke for home. Kregeloh fired a perfect throw to catcher Josh Galvan, who applied an easy tag to Smith for the second out.
“He put some mustard on it,” Epling said of Kregeloh’s throw. “The good thing about Pat is, he threw one away (but) he didn’t let it bother him. Right after that he made two or three really good plays.”
The Miners scored their two runs on a third-inning double by Doug Votolato.
West Virginia had five hits, three of them by Votolato. The Central Arkansas product had a triple in the eighth.
Splett had three of Lorain’s five hits.
Ironmen starter Eric Hall (1-4) took the loss despite a decent outing. He struck out three and walked two, and one of the Miners’ runs was unearned.
Notes: The start of the game was delayed 35 minutes because of lightning and heavy rain ... Today’s game will start at 5:05 p.m. Jaesung Hwang (5-1), the league-leader with a 0.39 ERA, will start for the Miners ... It will be Kroger Night. Any fan who brings a Kroger brand can of food will receive $1 off a ticket. Limit one per person.
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