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Cavs make MEC baseball tournament for first time

Kevin Mays • May 6, 2019 at 12:36 AM

WISE — Sunday was not a good day on the baseball field for Virginia-Wise, but there was a huge silver lining to the Cavaliers’ cloudy play.

Virginia-Wise dropped 9-5 and 5-2 decisions to Mountain East Conference foe Concord at Stallard Field.

Not all was bleak for the Cavs, however. Far from it.

Charleston’s 4-2 win over West Virginia State on Sunday put Virginia-Wise (25-25, 19-13) into a third-place tie with West Virginia State (24-23, 19-13) in the MEC’s South Division. The Cavs won the tiebreaker for the division’s third and final spot because they beat South champion Charleston (33-17, 25-7) twice this season and West Virginia State beat Charleston only once.

The Cavs will play MEC North Division champion Shepherd in the opening round of the conference tournament Thursday in Beckley, W.Va.

The trip will be the first postseason appearance for Virginia-Wise baseball since the school became a NCAA Division II member in 2015. It’s also the Cavs’ first trip to the playoffs since they played in the NAIA Mid-South Conference tournament in 2012.

“This is something that this team has earned,” veteran Cavaliers coach Hank Banner said. “They’ve worked hard for this all season.

“Today we played pretty well, but we didn’t get the wins. But I think for the whole season, the whole body of work, they deserve to be in it.”

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In addition to making the postseason for the first time since joining Division II, the Cavs have their most overall wins and wins in a conference.

Not too shabby for a team that started the season by losing its first eight games.

“This may not be the best team that I’ve ever had,” said Banner, in his 23rd season coaching Virginia-Wise, “but these guys have a lot of heart and they never stop fighting. They just keep fighting.”

CONCORD RULES THE DAY

Concord (33-15, 21-11) won the fight twice in the regular-season finale for both squads.

The Mountain Lions clinched the second spot in the MEC standings and will play Notre Dame College in the tournament’s opening round.

In Game 1, Ryan Fralin went 3-for-3 and scored twice and Adam Linkous was 2-for- 4 with an RBI for Concord.

Logan Morrison (6-3) pitched five innings, giving up two runs on four hits with nine strikeouts and three walks to earn the win.

Brett Yates was strong at the plate for Virginia-Wise, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs.

R.J. Vanvickle (4-6) got the loss after giving up five runs on four hits with two strikeouts and five walks in four innings of work.

In Game 2, Virginia-Wise got back-to-back solo home runs from Yates and Brett Thomas but those were its only runs.

Anthony Stehlin (1-0) gave up two runs on seven hits with three strikeouts over six innings for Concord. Adam Linkous closed out the game for his fifth save of the year.

Trevor Nevill took the loss after giving up four runs on eight hits with no strikeouts and no walks in 2 1/3 innings.

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