Black Bears win on Father’s Day, 8-7, over State College

GRANVILLE — The West Virginia Black Bears celebrated Father’s Day on Sunday with a back-and-forth win over the visiting State College Spikes, 8-7, at Kendrick Family Ballpark.

Coming off of a road trip in which they went 1-5, the Black Bears (5-7) came home to take two of three from the Spikes this weekend.

“It’s guys being adjusted to playing that many games in a row and being on the road like that,” Black Bears manager David Carpenter said. “They were trying to figure out what they need to compete every single day.”

Carpenter had both his own father in attendance on Sunday, carrying on a tradition of Father’s Day baseball in his family.

“(I loved) the opportunity to spend as much time with him as I could, whether it was playing college summer ball or in the minor leagues, all that stuff,” Carpenter said of spending Father’s Day with his dad. “Every time I got to see him and mom in the stands was special to me.”

Carpenter’s own son was also in attendance to celebrate the holiday.

“Now I’m getting to do some of that stuff with my son and it’s just one of those things you continuously pass down,” he said.

Also in the stands was the father of Black Bears’ shortstop Dalton Wentz. A high schooler from Amherst, Va., Wentz had the game-winning hit on Sunday as his hard-hit line drive in the bottom of the seventh went over the left fielder’s head to bring home West Virginia’s eighth run.

“It’s unbelievable to have him here, he’s been a huge part of my life,” Wentz said of his father. “He coached me up until I was 16 and he played baseball for a long time. Just to be able to go out there, play in front of him and let him be on the other side of it watching is awesome.” 

Wentz came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh with the game tied at 7-7 and runners on the corners.

“I was just trying to get something in the air,” he explained. “Had a guy in scoring position and a guy on first, so didn’t want to get doubled up. I wanted to hit something hard and in the air to get a sacrifice fly and it just turned out that the sun played in my favor.”

After supplying the go-ahead hit on Sunday, Wentz is leaving for the MLB Draft Combine, which will take place June 18-23 at Chase Field in Arizona.

“He plays well beyond his years,” Carpenter said of the 18-year-old. “There’s still some little things here and there he’s trying to clean up, but he’s a very mature kid. He’s cut from an old cloth, he’s the type of kid that wants to go out there every day and play as much as he can.”

“I’m pretty pumped to go up there and compete with the other top-300 guys,” Wentz said. “I’m just taking it as a good experience, not putting too much pressure on myself and just have fun.”

Pinch-hitter Ryley Preece had tied the game earlier in the bottom of the seventh when his flyball landed fair on the left field line, allowing a runner to scamper home from third. 

With the Spikes leading 2-1, the Black Bears scored five runs to pull ahead in the bottom of the fourth.

Catcher Josiah Chavez drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game 2-2 before Jarrett Ford gave the Black Bears the lead with a two-RBI single over the second baseman.

Brody Black followed with a run-scoring double to put the home team up 5-2. Jeff Liquori added a sacrifice fly, his team-leading ninth RBI of the summer, to boost the lead to 6-2.

State College added two runs in the top of the fifth on an RBI single by Blake Wilson and another successful double steal to cut the lead to 6-4. The Spikes then re-tied the game 6-6 on a bases-loaded, two-run single from Carson Luna in the top of the sixth. State College took the lead on Treyson Hughes’ pinch-hit solo home run that led off the top of the seventh.

“That’s just baseball, things happen,” Wentz said. “Teams will get streaky and you’ve got to find a way to slow your heart rate and get back into the game. We do a great job of that.”

West Virginia re-took the lead in the bottom of the seventh before right-hander Ryan Lambert, from Oklahoma University, closed the game with two scoreless frames to earn the save. Ryan Sleeper, from Appalachian State, got the win allowing one run in 1.2 innings out of the bullpen.

The Black Bears get Monday off before hitting the road again for a quick two-game series at the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. on Tuesday and Wednesday.