BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — Morgantown baseball coach Mark McCarty knows the capabilities of the Mohigans’ lineup.
In Wednesday’s matchup at Buckhannon-Upshur, they were on full display and paved the way in Class AAA No. 6 Morgantown’s 15-2 victory against the Buccaneers.
“We have a very strong team and we hit the ball hard,” McCarty said. “They worked really hard in the weight room this winter. We talk about if we can just stay in the game and keep it close, at some point we feel like we can break it open.”
With the Mohigans (4-1) leading 2-1 in the top of the third inning, Colton Matthews belted a two-out solo home run to left-centerfield on the first pitch of the at bat.
Morgantown took a 3-1 lead into the fourth inning and broke the game open with a nine-run frame.
Zach Owens and Preston Fox each singled, before Quentin Smith drew a walk to load the bases. Carter Patrick followed with a two-run single to right to up the MHS lead to four runs.
Smith scored later in the inning on an error, before Matthews singled to center to bring home Patrick and make it 7-1. Charlie Kerzak’s single to right enabled courtesy runner Zach Brennan and Devon Neal to score for a 9-1 lead.
After Owens was hit by a pitch, it spelled the end of Buckhannon-Upshur (2-6) starting pitcher Logan Bailey’s day on the mound, but the Mohigans weren’t done scoring. Gavin Cottle added a two-run single and Fox grounded out to second to bring home Owens and up the advantage to 12-1.
“We have a lot of good hitters,” McCarty said. “As the year goes on, I think we’ll be pretty strong from top to bottom. Obviously the middle of the lineup is capable of knocking the ball out at any time, but the other kids are pretty good hitters.”
After Bailey connected for an RBI double in the bottom of the inning to make it 12-2, Morgantown added three more runs in the fifth.
Neal doubled to left to score Brennan, before Matthews singled to right with Neal scoring on an error on the same sequence. MHS got its final run on Kerzak’s single to right, which allowed Matthews to cross the plate.
That was more than enough offense to end the game in five innings thanks to the pitching of Mohigans’ starter Caleb Taylor.
Taylor worked around a first-inning error that allowed B-U to hold an early 1-0 lead, and finished with six strikeouts and four hits allowed over five strong innings.
“He has good velocity and had good control all day,” B-U coach Adam Squires said. “His offspeed was good too. If you can do that and keep the ball down, you’re going to be hard to beat.”
After the early 1-0 deficit, Morgantown took the lead for good with a pair of runs in the second inning.
Smith’s single to center scored Preston Brock and Carter hit a fielder’s choice to second that allowed Cottle to score the Mohigans’ second run.
After Bailey struck out back-to-back batters to start the third, Matthews took him deep and it ignited the Morgantown bats the rest of the way.
“We haven’t really been playing the kind of ball we need to be playing to compete with a team like that,” Squires said after his team’s sixth loss in seven games. “Through three innings, we were OK and we were right in it with them. Our pitcher did a good job keeping us relatively close in the game.
“But you know they’re a good team and they’re going to hit the ball. They started hitting the ball and at that point, we didn’t have an answer for it.”
Morgantown finished with 14 hits and was led by Matthews and Kerzak, who had three hits apiece.
In 3 1/3 innings of work, Bailey allowed 12 runs on nine hits with five strikeouts and three walks. He and Timmy Phillips each doubled in defeat.