By Steve Keenan
The WVU Tech baseball team is limping to the finish line of an injury-plagued 2013 season.
This past Saturday, the Golden Bears picked up a nice doubleheader win, defeating host University of the Cumberlands, Ky. 6-3 and whipping Ohio Christian 13-1.
The following day, though, Cumberlands turned the tables and claimed a twin-bill from the Bears, 9-3 and 3-2. Those two losses left Tech at 22-27 heading into the final week of the regular season.
In the win over Cumberlands Saturday, Tech claimed an early 2-0 lead then plated three crucial runs in the top of the fifth to grab a 5-0 cushion.
Centerfielder Kevin Bocock and rightfielder Marc Culmer (double, three RBIs) each had two hits to power the Tech attack.
Jake Goodman went 2-for-3 for the hosts.
Tech’s Josh Smetana went 5 1/3 innings, striking out seven and yielding six hits, to earn the pitching win. He had relief help from Zack Thomas and Cesar Chavez, the latter whom picked up the save.
“That was a big win Saturday,” said Tech coach Lawrence Nesselrodt, referring to the defeat of Cumberlands. “We were very close to making it two out of three from them.”
Against Ohio Christian, Culmer belted two doubles and drove in five runs in a 3-for-4 effort at the plate. Bocock (double) and Jose Soto (home run, two RBIs) had two hits apiece, and Grant Williams had a triple and knocked in three runs.
Tommy Weaver pitched the first four innings, fanning three and scattering three hits, to earn the mound decision. Jonathan Price hurled the final three frames, striking out four and allowing no hits.
The latter part of the season has been difficult on Tech, Nesselrodt said.
“We’ve just had injuries,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’ll end the year without our 1 and 2 pitchers (Taylor Carter and Craig Johnson).”
Other main contributors such as Colton Ruley and Eric Stone have been limited by injuries, too.
“It’s taken its toll,” Nesselrodt said of the injuries. “We were ranked in the top 10 (of the USCAA) all year, but we’ve stumbled here of late.”
Tech plays this Saturday at Salem International before hosting a doubleheader at 2 p.m. Sunday against Salem at Douglas Epling Stadium in East Bank. Senior Day festivities will be staged Sunday. Grant Williams, Jose Soto, Jonathan Price, Kevin Bocock and Ryan Kessinger will be honored. The latter two are still juniors but will complete their degrees and are expected to leave the program.
Williams has been the most versatile Bear, playing all nine positions at one time or another. “Grant has really done everything for us.” Soto, a junior college transfer who’s been in Montgomery for two seasons, has solidified the catching position and allowed Williams to play elsewhere, and he’s provided good offensive numbers.
Price, a right-handed pitcher converted from the outfield, has gotten several starts for Tech and has been “another coach on the field for us.”
Bocock, the centerfielder, and Kessinger, the rightfielder, have been “our 1-2 hitters since getting here as freshmen.” Bocock’s 38 steals last year was a new school record, a figure which he’s close to this season.
“All five have been great contributors,” said Nesselrodt, whose team earlier in the campaign posted a school-record 11-game winning streak and whose current win total (22) ties a school mark.
The WVU Tech softball team split a weekend doubleheader this past Sunday. On Senior Day against Salem International University, Tech won the first outing, 7-2, before dropping the second game, 13-1.
Seniors Katie Campbell, Ali Holmes and Stephanie Nickell made their final appearances in front of the hometown crowd at the Riverside High School softball complex.
Campbell gave the Golden Bears an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when she launched a solo shot over the centerfield fence.
Later, six Tech runs in the bottom of the fifth propelled the hosts to the victory.
Key blasts during the surge were a solo homer by Megan Blythe, which extended her hitting streak to 11 games, a run-scoring double by Holmes and a three-run round-tripper by Genna Trippett.
Jacki Wood (6-5, 3.99 ERA) picked up the pitching victory while Salem’s Mangold was charged with the loss.
“Jacki had a good performance in the pitcher’s circle in game one,” said Tech coach Karin Gadberry. “Salem’s a good-hitting team and she was able to hold them down for most of the day.”
“And we had three big home runs from Katie, Megan and Jenna,” Gadberry added.
Tech (18-14), which is second in the current USCAA poll, returns to action this Sunday, April 28 when it travels to face Concord University in doubleheader action beginning at 3 p.m.
For up-to-date information on WVU Tech Athletics, visit http://www.GoldenBearAthletics.com.
(Editor’s note: WVU Tech SID Jason Hendrix contributed to this story.)