Quinton Yocom has dominated Chillicothe batters all season. Lately, Pat Kregeloh has feasted on Paints pitching.
The two came together Wednesday, and Chillicothe stood no chance.
Yocom threw eight shutout innings, Pat Kregeloh homered again and the West Virginia Miners wrapped up the Prospect League East Division championship with a 3-0 win Wednesday at soggy Linda K. Epling Stadium.
The Miners, also the division’s regular season champions, will play for the league championship for the third straight year. They lost to Quincy in 2011 before sweeping Dubois County in last season’s championship series.
“Like I said before, last year was the first, but it wasn’t going to be the last,” Miners manager Tim Epling said. “I don’t know if we’ll win the whole thing, but we are where we want to be.”
West Virginia has won its last five playoff games and, coupled with Tuesday’s 1-0 win over the Paints in Game 1 and the last two innings of last year’s clincher, has pitched 20 consecutive scoreless innings in the postseason.
Yocom’s performance Wednesday was a continuation not only of the Miners’ pitching dominance this summer — they have thrown 12 shutouts — but also of his command of the Paints. The 6-foot-2 right-hander out of Carson Newman struck out eight and walked three while holding Chillicothe to two hits.
Yocom lost 2-1 to the Paints last Thursday, but that was a mere blip. On the year, Yocom is 2-1 with a 0.62 ERA against Chillicothe. He has allowed just 17 hits and has 30 strikeouts in 29 innings.
“They’re good hitters. The big thing is I was able to mix up all my pitches,” said Yocom, whose right arm wrapped in ice did not keep him safe from an ice water dousing by teammates Kenny May and Zach Woolcock.
“Every time I’ve faced them, I’m getting all my pitches for strikes, and that’s huge against this team. If you get behind and you rely on your fastball, you’re going to get hit.”
“He really dialed in,” Epling said. “He was blowing the ball by them, even in the seventh inning. And he was actually throwing his breaking pitch with 2-1 counts and that sort of thing. It kept them off balance, but he attacked the mitt. That’s what it takes.”
Meanwhile, Kregeloh struck again, homering for the fourth time in five games. He hit a 2-0 pitch from Paints starter Nick Jensen-Clagg inside the left field foul pole to put the Miners ahead 1-0 in the fourth.
Kregeloh, whose two-run homer in the bottom of the 14th gave West Virginia a 4-2 win over the Paints last Friday, also hit a solo shot that proved to be the only run of the game Tuesday.
It was all West Virginia needed, but Griffin Moore provided insurance in the eighth.
May led off with an infield single and went to second when the Paints mishandled Dale Davis’ bunt. Both advanced on Evan Potter’s sacrifice, and Doug Votolato was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Moore then lined a 2-2 pitch to right to drive in May and Davis for a 3-0 lead.
Kolin Stanley struck out two in a perfect ninth for his second save of the series and third straight in the postseason. He got the save in last year’s championship clincher.
The championship series will begin Saturday at Quincy, which beat Danville 5-2 Wednesday to win the West Division title. Quincy defeated West Virginia 5-0 in the 2011 title game.
Game 2 of the series will be played in Beckley on Monday. First pitch will be 7:05 p.m.
All tickets cost $5, regardless of seating. They can be ordered by calling the Miners at 304-252-7233, or online at www.wvminersbaseball.com.
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CP: 000 000 000 — 0 2 0
WVM: 000 100 08x — 3 5 0
CP: Nick Jensen-Clagg, Greg Greve (6), Andrew Marra (8) and James Miglin, WVM: Quinton Yocom, Kolin Stanley (9) and Josh Galvan. WP — Yocom. LP — Jensen-Clagg. S — Stanley. Hitting — CP: Troy Kuhn 1-2 (2B), Zach Mathie 1-3, WVM: Griffin Moore 2-3 (rbi), Pat Kregeloh 1-4 (r, rbi, HR), Zach Woolcock 1-3, Kenny May 1-3 (r), Dale Davis 0-2 (r).