Strong effort from Michaelis, big day for bats send Bridgeport to 13-3 win over Morgantown

BRIDGPEORT, W.Va. — Class AAA No. 2 Bridgeport set the tone in Tuesday’s home matchup against No. 3 Morgantown by generating early offense through quality at bats in a four-run first inning.

While the Mohigans countered with three runs in the second, the Indians hardly let up. Starting with a solo home run off the bat of Zach Rohrig, Bridgeport matched Morgantown’s three-run second and its 7-3 lead was intact until the sixth inning, when the Indians produced an additional six runs, including a two-run home run from pinch hitter Jacob Stavrakis to finish off a 13-3 six-inning victory at BHS.

“The biggest thing is our plate patience and our pitch selection has improved from the beginning of the year,” Bridgeport head coach Robert Shields said. “That’s a big key and taking the ball the other way. The fat part of the bat is on the end of the bat and we keep trying to preach that.” 

After Bridgeport’s Rowen Michaelis tossed a scoreless first frame, the Indians ensured he’d take the mound to start the second with a lead by connecting for five hits to score runs in their first trip to the plate.

Bridgeport (19-3) got a two-run double from Mark Biafore to open its scoring, before Grant Lively and Ashton Curry each accounted for a run-scoring single.

“If he takes the ball the other way and doesn’t try to pull the ball, he’ll improve his average over 100 points,” Shields said of Biafore. “That’s what we try to emphasize with him. We have to start taking the ball the other way. We’ve emphasized that we fly out too much when we try to pull it and when we wait a little bit and let it travel, we’re hitting the ball solid and getting a good piece of the bat on the ball and we’ll make things happen that way.”

Morgantown (16-6) wasted no time getting back into the game as its first four batters reached in the second, including Caleb Nutter’s RBI double and Weston Mazey’s two-run single, which was nearly caught by Lively in right field, but instead brought his team to within a run at 4-3.

Michaelis retired three of the next four batters to keep his team in front by one, before Rohrig belted a solo home run to left field to lead off the second.

After Brody Pierce followed with a base-on-balls, it marked the end of the outing for Mohigans’ starting pitcher Maddox Bowers.

Bowers was replaced by Vincent Ali, who struggled with his control early as both Pierce and Kasen Baun scored on wild pitches to increase the Tribe lead to 7-3.

However, from that point forward, Aloi largely settled in and retired six of seven batters faced over the third and fourth innings.

“Getting down 4-0 is always hard, and then giving up seven runs over the first two innings, that’s really challenging,” Morgantown head coach Pat Sherald said. “I tip my hat to our guys for competing and getting us back within striking distance. Vinny Aloi really competed for us and kept us in the game.”

Yet the way Michaelis was pitching, there was no further cutting into the deficit for Morgantown. The Mohigans had two baserunners with one out in the fifth, but Michaelis struck out Elijah Boggs and got Tristan Milik to hit a ground ball to shortstop to escape the threat with no harm done.

“Rowen pitched lights out,” Shields said. “He hit his spots really well and he’s done that his last two outings. From the get go, he was in control of his pitches.”

Aloi logged another scoreless frame in the fifth, before Michaelis retired the side in order in the sixth.

Bridgeport ultimately didn’t need a pitcher for the seventh after it produced six runs in the sixth to end the matchup.

Rohrig singled to right to start that inning, ending the outing for Aloi, who was replaced by Tommy Montague. Pierce greeted Montague with a bunt single, and after a walk to Baun loaded the bases, Montague recorded his first out on a fielder’s choice that didn’t allow a run.

However, Biafore immediately followed with his second two-run double to make it 9-3, and Lively lifted a sacrifice fly to center that scored pinch hitter Ben Bifano for the 10th run.

Following Conner Blake’s double that scored Biafore, Stavrakis blasted a two-run home run to left field — his second in as many nights after he also accounted for one Monday in a win against North Marion.

“We’re starting to hit the ball a lot better than we were early in the year,” Shields said. “Maybe it’s due to some warm weather, but yesterday against North Marion and today we had some solid contact.”

Michaelis struck out four, issued one base-on-balls and allowed seven hits. 

Bridgeport’s 13-hit attack was led by Blake with three hits and Rohrig, Biafore and Lively, who recorded a pair of hits apiece.

Pierce and Baun each scored three runs.

Bowers took the loss and charged with six runs on six hits and two walks in one-plus inning. Aloi struck out five and allowed one run on three hits in four-plus innings.

Dylan Travinski and Noah Fields led the Mohigans with two hits.

“I know the scoreboard doesn’t show it, but I was pleased with our bats,” Sherald said. “We hit the ball hard and didn’t find holes in certain situations.”

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