Fundamentals key as Hawks win pitchers’ duel over Musselman at Kendrick Family Ballpark

GRANVILLE — Fans of fundamentally sound baseball would have loved the game between University and Musselman played at Kendrick Family Ballpark on Friday evening. A classic pitchers’ duel that featured even better defense was decided by a pair of outstanding at-bats by UHS hitters that lifted the Hawks to a 2-0 victory.

“That was a really well-played baseball game,” UHS coach Brad Comport said. “A pitchers’ duel for most of it and James (Bryner) threw extremely well, I’m really proud of how he went and just attacked the zone.”

Just a sophomore for University (10-10), Bryner threw a gem on the mound, pitching 5.2 shutout innings allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out five. That his outing came in the home of the WVU Mountaineers made it all the most impressive.

“He’s got the right demeanor for the game as far as he’s not bothered by much,” Comport said. “He slows the game down and the lights aren’t too bright for him. That’s really impressive as a younger guy.”

Musselman (12-9) only got a runner past first base twice in the game. The Appelmen had runners at first and second in the top of the third, but UHS third baseman Brodee Latocha caught a screaming line drive for the third out. MHS got runners on the corners in the top of the sixth, which finally chased Bryner from the game, but UHS reliever Wenkai Campbell struck out the next batter to end the threat.

Campbell then pitched a clean top of the seventh to pick up the save and secure the win.

University, on the other hand, had numerous chances to score, but just couldn’t break through against Musselman starter Wyatt McClintock.

Mason Chaney hit a lead-off book-rule double in the bottom of the second but was left stranded on third. Brock McDonough led off the bottom of the third with a bunt single and worked his way to third on a stolen base and an error, but he too was left on base.

It wasn’t until McDonough reached on another single to lead off the bottom of the fifth that UHS finally scored.  McDonough again made it to third base with no outs, this time on an errant pickoff throw.

That brought Mason McDonald to the plate facing the same situation for the second time in three innings. In the third, McDonald struck out, leaving McDonough at third. Faced with the situation again, he was determined to succeed.

“My mindset was just to relax,” the senior said. “I honestly try not to think much when I play in those bigger moments.”

McDonald worked the count full and on the 3-2 pitch, drove a ball that was a little high and outside the other way past the second baseman to let McDonough jog home.

“I knew I had no outs and a guy on third so I choked up and got one for my team,” McDonald said. “I knew I had to get the ball the other way because if I put it down the line, Brock was going to be able to score. 

“(The pitch) was high, but I wasn’t taking that chance with guys on. I wanted to do my job for the team and get that run in so I just battled and made sure to get that ball in play.”

UHS went on to load the bases, and McDonald was eventually forced out at home for the second out of the inning. That left Max Cash at the plate with two out and the bases juiced.

Like McDonald, Cash also worked a full count, but his 3-2 pitch was low as he took the run-scoring free pass.

“We had a good two-strike approach tonight and we did a good job of moving runners and we were able to get them in when we needed to,” Comport said.

The 2-0 lead was all the Hawks would need as Bryner and Campbell combined for the shutout.

McClintock took the hard-luck loss despite a strong five innings of work where he surrendered two runs on five hits and three walks with four strikeouts.

Friday’s game was the first of three for University in the 2024 Mon County Baseball & Softball Classic.

The Hawks will take on St. Maria Goretti Catholic (Md.) at Dale Miller Field today at 11:30 a.m. and then return to Kendrick Family Ballpark to battle Spring Mills at 4:30 p.m.

“It was a lot of fun,” Comport said of playing on WVU’s field. “Our guys embraced the opportunity, they had great energy and they were positive all night. They made the most of being out here and it was a lot of fun.”

University 2, Musselman 0
Muss 000 000 0 — 0 3 1
UHS 000 020 x — 2 5 1
MUSSELMAN (12-9) — Lore 3 0 0 0; McClintock 3 0 1 0; Boyles 3 0 0 0; Levie 2 0 0 0; Hinchman 0 0 0 0; Myers 2 0 1 0; Gill 2 0 1 0; Aulisio 1 0 0 0; Whyte 3 0 0 0; Dearstine 2 0 0 0; Chancey 1 0 0 0; Gilbert 2 0 0 0; Dunbar 1 0 0 0. Totals 25 0 3 0.
UNIVERSITY (10-10) — McDonald 2 0 1 1; McCune 4 0 0 0; Campbell 1 1 0 0; Chaney 3 0 1 0; Anderson 3 0 1 0; Cash 1 0 0 1; Latocha 3 0 0 0; Seggie 2 0 0 0; Jenkins 1 0 0 0; McDonough 3 1 2 0. Totals 23 2 5 2.
2B — UHS: Chaney.
WP: Bryner 5.2ip, 0r, 3h, 2bb, 5k
LP: McClintock 5ip, 2r, 5h, 3bb, 4k
SV: Campbell 1.1ip, 0r, 0h, 0bb, 2k