The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 5, 2012

Miners split doubleheader

West Virginia tops Richmond 11-0 in 1st game, falls 12-4 in nightcap

West Virginia Miners manager Tim Epling could feel a game like this coming. When a team is on a long winning streak, eventually the odds catch up.

They did Saturday night.

Justin Pearson led a 14-hit Richmond attack, Alex Sroka pitched seven good innings and the RiverRats defeated the Miners 12-4 for a doubleheader split at Linda K. Epling Stadium.

Earlier Saturday, the Miners finished off an 11-0 win in a game that had been suspended by weather July 14.

The loss in the nightcap ended West Virginia’s nine-game winning streak. The Miners had not lost since an 11-5 decision at Richmond July 24.

“You kind of look at the odds — we’re playing good,” Epling said. “I just hope and pray that we don’t have a game that gets out of hand Tuesday.”

The RiverRats’ big inning was the sixth, when they scored five runs. Richmond sent 10 batters to the plate, and five straight got hits.

Among the hits in the sixth was a double by Justin Pearson. The left-fielder, batting leadoff after Jake Welch was a late scratch, was a single shy of hitting for the cycle.

Pearson led off the game with a home run to center field. He also drove in a run with a triple in the third.

Pearson finished 3 for 4. He walked twice and struck out once.

Sroka (5-3) got the win for Richmond (17-9 second half, 32-24 overall), which is battling Chillicothe for the right to play the Miners in Tuesday’s East Division championship game. Sroka struck out five and walked a batter while holding West Virginia to five hits over seven innings.

Chris Crutcher (0-1) labored through three innings in his second start. He had four consecutive strikeouts, but went deep into several counts and wound up throwing 78 pitches. He had three walks and allowed four hits.

The Miners used five pitchers. Relievers Kolin Stanley and Tyler Rockafellow threw a perfect inning apiece and Hunter Brothers gave up an unearned run in the ninth.

“We’re trying to work all of our pitchers. We worked a lot of guys today,” Epling said.

“Richmond is a very good hitting team. You’re not going to hold them down all the time. If you take a look at the runs they have produced, everybody (contributes).”

John Spirk was 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs for the Miners (17-9, 38-18).

In the first game, Sam Lewis earned his second win in three days without throwing a pitch. He was the pitcher of record when the game was picked up with one out in the fifth inning. He was credited with two strikeouts and a walk while holding the RiverRats to one hit over 4 1-3.

Lewis is now a Prospect League-leading 8-1 with a 2.70 earned run average.

Joe Candelmo took it the rest of the way. He gave up two hits, struck out two and walked none.

Bradley Strong, Jon Gray and Joe Williams all had two of the Miners’ 12 hits. Williams drove in two runs.

The teams will meet in a doubleheader again today. The first game will start at 2:05 p.m., with the nightcap slated for 5:05 p.m. Each game is set for seven innings.

It will be West Virginia’s last home game of the regular season before concluding things Monday at Chillicothe.

The Miners’ opponent in Tuesday’s title game will either be Chillicothe or Richmond. Going into today, Richmond is tied with West Virginia for the second half lead, two games ahead of the Paints. Chillicothe, meanwhile, is a game up on Richmond for the best overall record. West Virginia leads the Paints by five games overall.

Tickets for the playoff game are $8.50 for chairback seats and $5.50 for bleacher seats. They can be purchased at the stadium box office, by calling 304-252-7233 or online at

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