That’s more like it.
Zachariah Devon turned in 5 2/3 strong innings and was backed by an offense that produced 17 hits, and — more importantly — the bullpen came through as the West Virginia Miners defeated the Normal CornBelters 12-3 Tuesday at Linda K. Epling Stadium.
The Miners (2-9) put together easily their best performance of the season. They snapped a three-game losing streak and won at home for the first time in six games.
“It was fun to see them play tonight,” first-year Miners manager Mike Syrett said.
The bats continued to burn for the Miners, who finished with double-digit hits for the fourth time in the last five games. Their runs came in bunches — four in the third inning, two in the fourth and then a six-run outburst in the fifth to take a 12-0 lead.
“I had that game in the bag at (4-0),” Devon said, complimenting his offense. “To be able to put 12 runs on the board takes the weight of the world off your shoulders as a pitcher. It lets you do things that you wouldn’t normally do, takes a lot of pressure off you and lets you compete at a higher level.”
Devon was the biggest beneficiary, but he more than did his part.
The right-hander from Spring Arbor University struck out five and did not walk a batter. He allowed just three hits and one earned run, and retired 10 straight batters at one point.
“It’s good to see a senior set the tone and show a little what it’s like to compete at a high level and just go in there and hit spots,” Syrett said. “I’m very proud of him. He came in there and did exactly what we needed.”
Will Harless was 3-for-4 and finished a triple shy of the cycle. His two-run homer in the fourth gave the Miners a 6-0 lead and was his second since joining the team last Wednesday.
Ross Mulhall also had three hits and Jonathan Pasillas was 2-for-5 with three runs batted in.
Harless is now hitting .429 and has scored nine runs in six games.
“We finally got Will out here and he swings the bat really well,” Syrett said. “He’s a good receiver behind the plate.
“He calls a good game. He’s got a good head on his shoulders. I consider him a prospect. I see him moving on and getting the opportunity to play (professionally).”
After Devon left with two out in the sixth, the Miners bullpen was entrusted with a 12-run lead. The relievers had blown late leads, two in the ninth, the previous four games.
The results were better Tuesday. The bullpen’s final line: three strikeouts, one walk, five hits over 3 1/3 innings.
“I’m pretty confident that they know I’ve got their back,” Syrett said. “I’m also confident in the fact that the nerves are starting to dissipate and they’re starting to play the game and it’s fun to watch.”
Nick Bonk (0-2) took the loss for Normal. He gave up four earned runs and seven hits over 2 2/3 innings.
Game two of the series will be tonight at 6:35 p.m. Beckley native Michael Maiolo will start for the Miners.
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