By Rusty Udy
For The Register-Herald
The legendary Yogi Berra would describe Wednesday’s West Virginia Miners game with the Chillicothe Paints as “deja vu all over again.”
Mother nature once again forced the two game series into a doubleheader, thanks to heavy rains on Tuesday.
Unlike last week’s opener of the twinbill, the Miners used a stellar pitching performance from Brandon Koch and timely hitting to grab a 4-3 win in eight innings at Linda K. Epling Stadium.
Chillicothe jumped out early to a 2-0 lead, thanks in large part to the Brugnoni brothers, Dominic and Giancarlo. Dominic put the Paints up 1-0 with an RBI double in the top of the second, while Giancarlo singled in the third inning and scored on a triple by Troy Kuhn for a 2-0 lead.
The Miners however had an answer in Prospect League Hitter of the week, Pat Kregeloh, who stepped to the plate with runners at first and second. Kaeo Aliviado, who was hit by a pitch, stood at second and Douglas Votolato was at first on a walk.
Kregeloh promptly drilled a double, driving in his team-leading 12th and 13th RBIs to tie the score.
“Pat (Kregeloh) has been consistent all year. It is about timely hitting, “ stated an elated Miners manager Tim Epling.
Epling handed the ball to Brandon Koch to bring the Miners home, and Koch responded with 5 1/3 innings of one-hit baseball and surrendered just one run to keep the Miners in the game.
However the Miners entered the bottom of the seventh behind by the lone run the Paints had scratched out in the sixth off of Koch.
The seventh opened with two outs and bleak hopes for the Miners, but the top of the order stepped to the plate and literally stepped up for the Miners. Aliviado smacked a double and Votolato drove a clutch single up the middle and to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
Koch, who was victimized by a walk-off home run against Richmond on Sunday, would not be denied, retiring three straight Paint hitters.
A throwing error on a routine play to second by Kuhn for the Paints put a runner at second, and a sacrifice attempt that turned into a single for Kenny May set up first and third. The Paints were forced to load the bases and pull the infield in tight, but Paints pitcher Jack Quigley hit Nick Paxton with a pitch, pushing the winning run across the plate for the Miners.
“This was a really, really good win for us because they threw two really good pitchers at us. For us to battle those guys and put ourselves in a place to win is huge for us,” explained manager Tim Epling.
The Miners hoped to sweep the Eastern Division leaders in the nightcap before heading on a four-game road trip to Slippery Rock and Butler. Results of the second game were not available at press time.