Bombers lose grip on lead, look to rally at home

Special to The Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Dubois County Bombers centerfielder Austin Nyman managed to make contact with Sam Lewis’ 134th pitch of the night, but the ball landed in the glove of West Virginia Miners first baseman Alex De La Rosa.

It was one of the few Bombers outs that left home plate in a 4-2 win for West Virginia in Game 1 of the Prospect League Championship Series on Thursday night at Linda K. Epling Stadium.

Lewis (9-1), an incoming senior at Indiana Wesleyan University, surrendered only two runs and seven hits in his complete-game win. The right-hander struck out 18 Bombers.

“No doubt (Lewis) is a very good pitcher, a very effective pitcher,” Bombers manager Ryan Anderson said.  “Going into Game 1, you’re flying blind; all you can do is look at stats.”

Pichi Torres (2-5) started for Dubois County and took the loss. In his six innings, he held West Virginia to four hits but also surrendered four runs.  Torres struck out seven.

Game 1 played out as expected between two teams that are rather similar in that they rely more on smallball than power to kick-start offense.

“We’re both obviously good teams, but we kind of beat ourselves,” Bombers catcher Kolin Conner said.  “They executed a little better than we did at key times. I came up twice with runners on and didn’t come through.”

 After a scoreless first, Conner led off the second with a long fly ball to centerfield that West Virginia’s Luke Meeteer had trouble handling. It landed beyond his leap, and Conner reached with a double.

 Two batters later, designated hitter Chris Tavares drilled an RBI double, staking the Bombers to a 1-0 lead.

 After Bo Aumus was hit by a pitch and Nyman struck out, Landon Curry knocked a grounder through the middle of the infield to drive home Tavares and put Dubois County ahead 2-0.

The Bombers (37-25) managed only four hits — all singles — from that point on.
Torres maintained the two-run lead through the second before buckling in the third. West Virginia’s Bradley Strong ripped an RBI triple and then scored on a groundout to level the score at 2.

In the fourth, West Virginia (42-19) loaded the bases with none out, and the Miners produced the go-ahead runs on a walk and a passed ball.

 “A couple of bad things happened,” Conner said.  “A couple walks, that ball I dropped. ... We didn’t execute in key situations.”

 Jon Rashid relieved Torres and worked a scoreless seventh and eighth for Dubois County.

 “We had a few walks, a few hit batters,” Anderson said.  “Jon came in and did well.  Our pitching kept us in the game.”

 The teams return to Indiana to square off for Game 2 on Saturday night at 7:15 at League Stadium in Huntingburg. Game 3 will be at 6:15 p.m. Sunday, if necessary.
 “We’re looking forward to the next two at home,” Conner said.  “We’re ready to go.”

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