Mother Nature forced the deciding game of the New York-Penn League best-of-three game semifinal series to be pushed back a day to Sunday, and the West Virginia Black Bears used the day of rest to their advantage to advance to the championship series. 4-0 victors over the Williamsport Crosscutters, the Black Bears move on to face the Staten Island Yankees in the championship series beginning Monday night in Morgantown.
West Virginia, playing in their first ever playoff series in their inaugural season, went scoreless through 5 innings. The Black Bears got on the board in the sixth inning via a Logan Hill sacrifice fly that plated Mitchell Tolman. The sacrifice fly put West Virginia up a run after 5 and a half innings.
Black Bears starting pitcher Brandon Waddell outdueled Crosscutters starter Mitch Gueller, who went 5.1 innings. Waddell gave up two hits, no runs and struck out six Williamsport hitters in his 6 innings of work. Gueller gave up an earned run and two hits for the Crosscutters.
Cesilio Pimentel kept Williamsport off the board in the bottom half of the seventh, and in the top of the eighth, the Black Bears offense came alive.
Tolman got the inning started with a single off Anthony Sequiera, followed by a Christian Kelley free pass. Right fielder Logan Hill reached on a fielding error by Crosscutters second basemen Josh Tobias which scored Tolman from second. Carlos Munoz stepped to the plate and laced a line drive to center field scoring Kelley.
Williamsport followed the Munoz single by bringing in Kenny Koplove to replace Sequiera. Koplove faced Ke’Bryan Hayes and induced a ground ball to second base but Tobias committed his second fielding error of the inning, allowing Hill to score and putting the Black Bears up 4-0 heading into the bottom of the inning.
Pimentel held the Crosscutters scoreless again in the eighth before giving way to Julio Eusebio in the ninth. Eusebio shut the door on the Williamsport offense and got three clean outs to give West Virginia its first championship series berth in franchise history.
The Black Bears will face the Staten Island Yankees, semifinal winners over the Tri-City ValleyCats 3 games to none, Monday night at 7pm at Monongalia Ballpark in Morgantown.
Game 1 of the best-of-three Championship Series will be held in Morgantown with the Game 2 and Game 3 being held in Staten Island.
West Virginia is going for their first New York-Penn League Championship as the Yankees are looking to win their seventh league crown.
Photo credit: MiLB.com