West Virginia Miners manager Tim Epling was disappointed Wednesday evening, following his teams’ 5-4 loss to the visiting Chillicothe Paints.
But it wasn’t the players on the team he was disappointed with. It was himself.
Epling was coaching on third base, with the Miners down 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth. With Charlie Padilla on first and Griffin Moore on second, Gavin Culler hit a shot to shallow left field that Paints left fielder Ronnie Dawson laid out for but wasn’t able to reel in.
Moore hesitated between second and third, and then headed for home.
Epling didn’t stop him.
When Moore reached home plate, Chillicothe catcher Alex Ritchie was waiting for him with the ball.
“I made a bad read on that last ball hit,” Epling said. “I knew it was a hit, in my mind I’m saying ‘he’s going to score.’ I was watching the ball and didn’t see Griff. I thought he had taken off. In my mind I’m thinking we’re going to score, but Griff was waiting to see if he caught it or not. We should be tied up and it’s my fault.”
In the next at bat, Miners shortstop Grant Massey grounded to the pitcher and was put out at first, giving the win to the Paints.
“Our guys fought back,” Epling said. “If you look at the game, it’s one of those games you lose, but you know you played better than what the score said. I’m disappointed in the end; we put ourselves in good position.”
The Miners went up early, when Mike Brosseau scored on a Taylor Kellner double.
The lead would last only for two innings, when in the top of the fourth inning, Ritchie hit a bases clearing double, bringing home three Paints and giving the team from Chillicothe the lead.
West Virginia battled back in the seventh inning when Massey scored on a Ryan Perkins double. Perkins scored a run of his own just a few moments later when Zach Woolcock brought him in.
The Miners would tie it up in the 8th inning when Paul Trenhaile scored.
It was the top of the tenth inning when Ritchie put the Paints ahead for good, however, hitting a line drive down the third base line that bounced off the bag and into the outfield, allowing Ronnie Dawson to score.
“We just had missed opportunities all around,” Epling added. “We should’ve scored eight or ten runs in this game.”
West Virginia did uncharacteristically strand ten runners in the game.
“We didn’t execute,” he said. “And we’ve been executing.”
The Miners loss brings to an end a 10-game winning streak. But despite the loss, Epling is confident his team will rebound.
“We’ve got 29, 29 and a half more games,” he said. “Look, we know who we are. I think the guys know that we’ve been having a nice streak. You don’t win ten in a row and not be good. We just need to start another streak. We’re playing good.”
West Virginia will look to begin that new streak tonight, for the second game in the three game series with the Paints. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
“My hat’s off to our guys,” Epling said. “They put themselves in a position to win this game. When you’re riding a streak, you’re going to have those game you should’ve won, but didn’t.”
Paints 5, Miners 4 (10 innings)
C: 000 301 000 1 — 5 9 0
WV: 010 000 210 0 — 4 9 1
C: Riehl, Wolfe (4), Murray (5), Johnson (7) and Ritchie, WV: Lavoie, K. Palmer (5), D. Curtis (7) and D. Shaeffer. WP — Johnson. LP — Curtis. Hitting — C: Hoekstra 1-5, Dawson 3-5 (3 r), Ritchie 2-5 (4 rbi), Rhude 2-5 (rbi), Hall 1-4, WV: Perkins 1-5 (rbi, r), Martinelli 1-5, Woolcock 2-5 (rbi), Brosseau 1-5 (r), Trenhaile 1-2, Kellner 1-2 (rbi), Culler 1-1..
Records: Chillicothe (21-9, 1-1), West Virginia (19-13, 1-1)