By Steve Keenan
Former Oak Hill High baseball standout Dustin Nuckels played a big role as Concord University won its fifth straight game Saturday.
Nuckels, a junior, threw three strikeouts in the seventh inning to preserve the Mountain Lions’ 17-12 verdict over Ohio Valley University, handing Concord its fifth consecutive win and raising the Lions to 17-13 overall and 12-5 in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC).
Concord defeated OVU 17-1 in the first game Saturday.
Nuckels, a 5-foot-10, 180-pounder who had a combined 4-1 record in his first two seasons, was 0-1 in seven appearances this season ahead of securing the save Saturday by allowing one hit and one run and fanning five in two innings of work.
“Dustin is one of our most reliable and versatile arms,” Andrew Wright, the Mountain Lions’ third-year head coach, said in an earlier e-mail interview. “He can play any role on our pitching staff because of his ability to throw strikes.
“Without arms like Dustin on your staff, it can be difficult to win a lot of games. I project Dustin to have played as big a role as any when you take a look back at this season.”
Nuckels isn’t the only OHHS alum who’s making contributions at Concord. Redshirt junior hurler Tyler Zimm, who transferred to CU from California, Pa. two seasons ago, has started four games on the mound in 2013 and compiled a 1-1 record.
“His experience and skill set proved to be an invaluable addition to our pitching staff,” Wright said of the 6-foot, 185-pound Zimm. “Down the stretch he will be seeing a lot of time for us in a starting role, whether it be mid-week or on the weekend.”
“We are fortunate to have the local talent on our roster that we have,” Wright continued. “When you look at good programs, the first thing that stands out is that they don’t let good local talent get away from them.
“We have been working hard to keep the best talent in southern West Virginia in our program. Dustin and Tyler have been prime examples of this approach.”
“We need to be more consistent down the stretch. ... If we play clean, fundamental baseball we can be pretty good; however, even though we schedule in a very aggressive manner, our early season misfortunes have been a product of us not executing the fundamentals of the game.”
Concord captured the 2011 WVIAC tournament championship and hopes to achieve that level of success again this spring.
“We expect to win championships here at Concord and we are not shy to talk about it,” said Wright. “We have been, and will continue to be, about competing for championships, graduating our players and giving back to the community.
“Our guys understand that to be a championship type of person or program you can’t turn it on and off, you have to hold yourself to a high standard in every aspect of your life.”
The Mountain Lions host the University of Charleston on Saturday and Sunday, April 6 and 7.
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