July 24, 2014

Elyria
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Ironmen hitters stymied by West Virginia pitching

LORAIN — On the surface, it appeared there was nothing special about the pitching of West Virginia’s Jaesung Hwang on Sunday afternoon at The Pipe Yard.

But on closer inspection, Hwang kept Lorain County’s batters on their collective heels all afternoon with a deceptive fastball and a variety of off-speed stuff. The result was a 5-2 victory for the first-place Miners (18-12) over the Ironmen, who fell seven games behind at 11-19.

Hwang (4-1) gave up just three hits and two runs. He leads the league’s starting pitchers with a miniscule 0.48 ERA, holding opponents to just 19 hits and three walks in 37 innings. He struck out six to raise his season total to 30.

Lorain County manager Joe Rhomberg couldn’t do much but tip his cap to the right-hander from Cumming, Ga.

“The first time through the lineup, (our batters) said he was throwing a splitter and a version of a screwball — it had a reverse spin on it,” Rhomberg said. “The first time through, we weren’t quite used to it. We started bearing down on him. We had some chances. We started seeing the ball better and made him throw more strikes. We just didn’t get to him when we needed to.”

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Those chances came in the fourth and seventh innings — the only times Hwang was in any trouble.

The Ironmen scored twice in the fourth after the first two batters were retired, but Ryan Leffel, who doubled home Zach Ratcliff with the second run of the inning, strayed too far off second base on the throw home. He was thrown out by catcher Jordan Parris to end the inning.

Ratliff had driven in Scott Splett with a looping double to right after Splett walked with two out.

In the seventh, Splett drew another walk and Ratliff reached on an error, but Hwang retired the next three hitters on strikes to end that threat. Lorain County had only one other baserunner against Hwang, a two-out single by Isaac Smith with two out in the eighth, but Billy Salem grounded out to end the inning.

Lorain County starter Jake Post deserved better. He scattered seven hits and left after six innings with the game tied at 2, but West Virginia scratched out a run in the seventh off Medina’s Matt Ellenbest in his first appearance of the season.

Ellenbest walked the speedy Kaeo Aliviado, who advanced to second on a passed ball, motored to third on a grounder and scored on a line-drive sacrifice fly to right. The Miners added some insurance with two runs in the eighth.

“He did excellent again,” said Rhomberg of Post (1-1, 2.84 ERA). “That’s his third or fourth straight real good start for us. Unfortunately, he hasn’t gotten a win out of any of them.”

Next up

  • WHO: Lorain County vs. Slippery Rock
  • WHEN: Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.
  • WHERE: Jack Critchfield Park, Slippery Rock, Pa.

Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or at timothygeb@msn.com.