By Rusty Udy
For The Register-Herald
Good pitching will beat good hitting, and with his team coming off two losses in a row to Chillicothe over the weekend, West Virginia Miners manager Tim Epling handed the ball to the Prospect League’s top pitcher, Jaesung Hwang.
Hwang responded by scattering six hits and striking out eight, and gave up just one unearned run to lead the Miners past Richmond 3-1 Monday at Linda K. Epling Stadium.
Win No. 5 for Hwang did not come easy. Richmond starter Patrick Van Daalwyk responded to the challenge of facing the man named starting pitcher for the league’s East Division all-stars with a solid pitching performance of his own.
Van Daalwyk issued a walk to leadoff hitter Kaeo Aliviado to start the Miners’ half of the first, then promptly retired the next 10 Miners in a row.
With Van Daalwyk in total control of the game and one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, he hit Zach Woolcock with a pitch and the game took a change in favor of West Virginia.
Griifin Moore blasted a single back across the mound, moving Woolcock to second. An alert Woolcock then advanced to third on a fly ball to right field, setting up runners at first and third for the Miners.
The scoreless tie was then broken on a nicely executed double steal. Moore broke for second and beat the throw, and Woolcock raced home with the game’s first run.
Kenny May followed that with an RBI double scoring Moore to give the Miners a 2-0 advantage and all the runs Hwang would need to capture the win.
The RiverRats’ lone run and only true threat came in the top of the seventh inning.
Jordan Nieman advanced to first when he was hit by a pitch. Nieman then broke for second on a perfectly timed hit and run. The throw from Woolcock in right sailed just over May’s outstretched glove at third, allowing Nieman to dash home.
The inning ended with one of several nice defensive plays for the Miners on the night, as May fielded a slow roller to third on the run and threw a strike to first for out number three.
Moore ended the scoring for West Virginia in the eighth on a RBI single driving in Evan Potter with the game’s final run.
Having a solid pitcher like Hwang on the hill can lead to some complacency at the plate, and Epling is well aware of that trap.
“I don’t want them to be too relaxed with Hwang on the mound, (but) he still didn’t give up an earned run tonight,” Epling said of Hwang, who threw his third complete game and lowered his ERA to 0.39. “We played good defense behind him. It was a total team effort out there tonight.”
Ryan Perez will make his debut on the hill tonight as the Miners look to sweep the RiverRats. Game time is 7:05 at Linda K. Epling Stadium.
It will be Cancer Awareness Night — wear pink again for $2 off — as well as Two for Tuesday (buy a ticket, get one free) and Baseball Bingo Night.
— E-mail: rudy@
RR: 000 000 100 — 1 6 0
WVM: 000 200 10x — 3 5 3
RR: Patrick Van Daalwyk and Garrett Ruckel, WVM: Jaesung Hwang and Jordan Parris. WP — Hwang. LP — Van Daalwyk. Hitting — RR: Jason Blum 1-4, Robbie Stein 2-4, Jordan Nieman 1-3, (run) Kyle Leslie 2-3, WVM: Pat Kregeloh 1-4, Zach Woolcock (run), Griffin Moore 2-4 (run, rbi), Kenny May 1-3 (2b, rbi), Evan Potter 1-3 (run).
Records: RR: 14-23; WVM: 23-14.