Milik throws 6 strong innings and drives in 2 as Morgantown beats Bridgeport to claim regional championship

BRIDGEPORT — Tristan Milik threw six strong innings on the mound and drove in two runs at the plate as the Morgantown baseball team claimed the Class AAA Region I championship, 4-1, over Bridgeport on the road Wednesday evening.

“I’m just so proud of these guys, I’m so happy for them,” MHS coach Pat Sherald said. “When this season started, nobody believed that these boys could get here except for these boys. They’ve played with a chip on their shoulder all year.”

The Region I championship series went all three games as the Indians (32-5) won 2-1 on Monday before the Mohigans (29-8) bounced back to win 5-1 at home Tuesday and then 4-1 to clinch the series on Wednesday. With the win, the Mohigans advance to their first state tournament since 2016.

“We’ve got guys stepping up, guys who are just playing their best baseball right now,” Sherald said. “For us to have an opportunity to represent Morgantown and our community, we’re very, very happy.”

At the front of the line of guys playing their best baseball right now is Milik. The senior turned in a third straight strong start in the regional series for MHS, following Dylan Travinski and Hunter Dakan, who both threw complete games against BHS earlier this week.

“I just know I’ve got to go out there and do my job,” Milik said. “(Travinski and Dakan) are telling me this hitter does this or that hitter does that, so I know I need to go in and attack.”

Milik worked into the seventh inning on Wednesday, allowing just one run on three hits while striking out six.

Morgantown’s Tristan Milik (19) throws a pitch against Bridgeport during the Region I championship game Wednesday evening. (Cody Nespor/The Dominion Post)

The way his outing started, however, it didn’t look like Milik was going to last long in the game.

With the sun still high in the sky and the temperature in the 80s, Milik labored through a 30-pitch bottom of the first inning. Bridgeport got things started with a leadoff single then bunted the runner to second. A single by Zach Rohrig and a walk loaded the bases with just one out. Mark Biafore grounded out to drive in a run and the Milik got a strikeout to end the threat trailing 1-0.

After that, however, Milik went to his curveball more and started cruising.

“After that first inning, I wasn’t really throwing any (curveballs),” he explained. “I came into the dugout and grabbed (catcher) Caleb Nutter and I told him we were working breaker. They didn’t want to swing at it and it set up everything else.

“I just had to be confident in myself. Coming in and getting that drink of water (after the first inning) was awesome.”

Milik only allowed two baserunners over the next four innings as Bridgeport’s offense went ice-cold.

“He started out breaking ball to keep us off-balance because we started off aggressive,” BHS coach Robert Shields said. “And then our bat discipline went the other way because we swung at some bad pitches that were ball fours.”

While he was setting hitters down on the mound, Milik was also getting the job done at the plate. In the top of the third, Koa Silvers singled with two outs and got to second on a passed ball. Travinski followed with a walk and then Milik sent a ball back up the middle to score Silvers and tie the game 1-1.

“The first time I struck out looking so I knew how his fastball moved,” Milik said. “I knew I just needed to drive it up the middle, especially with guys on.”

MHS took the lead in the top of the fifth when Weston Mazey drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on Mason Bowers’ bunt single. Silvers laid down a sacrifice bunt and Bridgeport’s pitcher made an errant throw to first that got away and allowed Mazey to score to make it 2-1. Travinski hit a sacrifice fly to score Bowers for a 3-1 lead.

Morgantown’s Dylan Travinski (21) hits a sacrifice fly against Bridgeport during the Region I championship game Wednesday evening. (Cody Nespor/The Dominion Post)

Then Milik stroked another single into the outfield to score Silvers and give MHS a 4-1 cushion. 

Bridgeport battled back, getting two runners into scoring position in the bottom of the sixth, but Milik induced a harmless popup to first base to end the frame.

“Each outing he’s gotten a little bit better,” Sherald said of his starter. “Watching him mature as a pitcher this season has been fun to watch, it’s been fascinating to watch. I just couldn’t be more proud of him, he’s been the ultimate competitor for us.”

Milik walked the first batter in the bottom of the seventh and was replaced with closer Judd Messerly, who struck out the next three to end the game.

Milik’s final line was one run over six innings on three hits with six strikeouts. In the series, Bridgeport was held to just four runs on eight hits.

“No matter what, we’ve got to score runs,” Shields said. “Eight (hits) in three games, that’s hard to win. That’s hard on a pitcher, it’s hard on a coach, it’s hard on a team. 

“I’m not taking anything away from Morgantown. They executed, they played well and they were fundamentally sound.”

Morgantown’s Judd Messerly (17) and Caleb Nutter (9) celebrate after defeating Bridgeport in the Region I championship Wednesday evening. (Cody Nespor/The Dominion Post)

Combined, Morgantown’s three starting pitchers — Travinski, Dakan and Milik — allowed four runs in 19 innings with 15 strikeouts.

“We knew what we had in the pitching,” Sherald said. “We knew we were going to be very competitive on the mound and that’s what we did. We found ways to score runs and fortunately, we scored more runs than them.”

At the plate, Milik finished 2 for 4 with two RBI while Travinski, who was named the OVAC 5A Player of the Year on Tuesday, had a hit and an RBI. Silvers scored twice while Mazey and Bowers had a hit and scored a run each.

Morgantown’s last state tournament appearance came in 2016. Before then, the Mohigans hadn’t played for the state title since the 1970s. MHS will play next Thursday at GoMart Ballpark in Charleston. The time and opponent are to be determined.

“It’s the best feeling ever,” Milik said of making it to Charleston. “All I’ve got to do now is talk my mom into letting me bleach (my hair).”

Morgantown 4, Bridgeport 1
MHS 001 030 0 — 7 4 0
BHS 100 000 0 — 1 3 1
MORGANTOWN (29-8) — Bowers 4 1 1 0; Silvers 4 2 1 0; Travinski 2 0 1 1; Milik 4 0 2 2; Fields 2 0 0 0; Wolfe 2 0 1 0; Boggs 1 0 0 0; Jeffries 1 0 0 0; Nutter 3 0 0 0; Mazey 2 1 1 0. Totals 25 4 7 3.
BRIDGEPORT (32-6) — Baun 4 1 1 0; Pierce 3 0 1 0; Rohrig 2 0 1 0; Duvall 1 0 0 0; Biafore 2 0 0 1; Lively 2 0 0 0; Via 0 0 0 0; Blake 3 0 0 0; Curry 2 0 0 0; M. Romano 2 0 0 0. S. Romano 1 0 0 0. Totals 22 1 3 1.
WP: Milik 6ip, 1r, 3h, 3bb, 6k
LP: Butcher 4ip, 3r, 5h, 5bb, 6k
SV: Messerly 1ip, 0r, 0h, 0bb, 3k