By Rusty Udy
For The Register-Herald
The East Division leading West Virginia Miners used “small ball” to squeeze by the Butler Blue Sox Wednesday 2-1 in the first game of a doubleheader for their seventh win in a row.
Miners starter Kevin Johnstone battled his control most of the night and battled out of several jams before Butler pushed across a run in the top of the fifth to take the lead 1-0.
The run came on a Matt Peters single that scored Dylan Wolsonovich who had reached on a lead off walk and then stole second to get in scoring position.
With Butler having runners at first and third and two outs in the same inning, Miners manager Tim Epling turned to Brandon Koch. Koch promptly ended the threat with a strikeout of Pat McCarthy.
“Once Brandon gets it going, he is really good and he has a mentality that is really tough,” said Epling
The Miners finally got to Butler starter Anthony Caringi in the bottom of the fifth. Caringi had baffled the Miners by changing speeds masterfully throughout the night.
Caringi hit the first two batters of the inning leading to a perfect sacrifice bunt by Kenny May moving runners to second and third, then Kaeo Aliviado lifted a fly ball to left field scoring Nick Paxton to tie the score at 1-1.
After Koch shut down the Blue Sox in the top of the sixth, Griffin Moore worked a one out walk from reliever Tyler Swarmer to give the Miners a threat in the bottom of the inning.
With Moore breaking for second, Douglas Votolato beat out a chopper to third that was mis-handled by the Blue Sox first baseman allowing Moore to advance to third.
Robert Travone Jr. then laid down the second perfect bunt of the night pushing Moore across with the game winner for the Miners.
“It was a good win for sure, we got two bunts down today. We have not been a good bunting team, so I am real happy with that,” Epling said.
The win did not come easy however as Butler threatened in the top of the seventh.
Koch easily recorded outs on the first two hitters before Matt Peters lifted a fly ball down the right field line getting by a diving Zach Woolcock for a triple.
After a walk to Tyler Detmer, Koch dug deep and struck out Alex Jurich to end the threat.
Epling was impressed with his young pitcher. “They had a situation there where they (Butler) could have tied it and he (Koch) just kept steady. I was real happy with his performance.”
In the nightcap the Miners defeated Butler 3-2 for a sweep of the series to advance their winning streak to eight games.
Kaeo Aliviado and Nick Paxton had two hits apiece, while Pat Kregeloh, Kenny May and Paxton each drove in one run in the win.
The Miners (20-12) travel to Slippery Rock, Pa. for a two game set with the Sliders starting this evening at 7:05 p.m.