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Hatmaker's Gutty Performance Keeps UVa-Wise Alive for MEC Tournament Berth


WISE - - Senior Nathan Hatmaker fired 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball to combine with freshman Greg Duncan on an eight-hit shutout as UVa-Wise claimed an 8-0 win in game two to earn a doubleheader split with visiting West Virginia Wesleyan at Stallard Field Sunday afternoon. The split wrapped up a four game series that saw each school win a pair of games. The Bobcats overcame a five-run deficit to win game one 8-6.

West Virginia Wesleyan (20-25, 17-11 MEC) got off to a fast start in the opener as an Austin Keene RBI single scored Greg Smith to give the guests a 1-0 lead.

Things began to unravel for the Bobcats' pitching staff in the second as UVa-Wise (18-28, 12-16 MEC) scored five runs without a hit as Wesleyan issued seven walks in the frame.

The Cavs tacked on a sixth run in the home third when freshman Nate Thompson (Wise, Va./Central H.S.) produced an RBI groundout allowing sophomore Cal Bailey (Suffolk, Va. Kings Fork H.S.) to scamper home.

A half inning later, the Bobcats began their comeback as Erik Forbrick doubled to lead off the inning and moved to third one batter later on an error. After back-to-back outs, Smith plated two runs with a double down the left field line to cut the UVa-Wise lead to 6-3.

The visitors got within two when centerfielder John Koon blasted a solo homer down the right field line to lead off the top of the fifth.

An inning later, Wesleyan would score four unearned runs to take an 8-6 lead. The big blow in the frame came on Keene's two-run double.

Second baseman turned pitcher Hunter Rotarius and closer Chris Metrick shut down the UVa-Wise offense as the pair pitched four innings of scoreless relief to complete the comeback win. The win improved Rotarius to 3-3 on the season while the save was the eighth for Metrick.

Game two saw the senior Hatmaker (Harrogate, Tenn./Cumberland Gap H.S.) lock horns with Wesleyan freshman hurler Travis Perry.  The duo traded zeros over the first four innings before an error gave life to the Cavalier offense in the bottom of the fifth.

Bailey reached on an error to lead off the inning before moving to second Matthew Branham (Wise, Va./John I. Burton H.S.) singled up the middle to put two on with nobody out. Following a groundout, Thompson bounced out to shortstop to plate Bailey and the game's first run of the day.

A batter later, sophomore David Thomas (Goodview, Va./Staunton River H.S.) singled down the right field line to score Branham and stake Hatmaker to a 2-0 lead.

The southpaw wiggled out of trouble all day but kept the Bobcats off the scoreboard. Wesleyan had at least one base runner in each inning Hatmaker worked and stranded multiple base runners in three frames.

UVa-Wise plated some insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth when Trevor Nevill (Hoover, Ala./Reinhardt University) walked and later scored on a three-base error. Bailey plated the second run of the inning with a solid single through a drawn in left side of the infield to make it a 4-0 game.

After a one out single in the eighth, Hatmaker departed after 118 pitches to give way to freshman Greg Duncan (Centreville, Va./Westfield H.S.). The right-hander was perfect out of the pen as he retired all five men he faced to seal the victory.

The Cavs put the game out of reach with a four-run eighth as Bailey knocked in a pair of runs to go with a fielder's choice sacrifice RBI from Jordan Turner (Berryville, Va./Clarke County H.S.) and a run-scoring hit by Thompson.

Bailey had one of the better games of his career to lead an 11-hit offensive effort as the second baseman went 2-4 with three RBI and a pair of runs scored. Thompson finished 3-5 with two RBI while Nevil became the third player with multiple hits in the win as he finished 2-3 with a walk.

By virtue of the split, UVa-Wise remains in contention for the final berth in the upcoming Mountain East Conference Tournament. Hank Banner's club will have to sweep Concord in a split four game series next week to join the field. The series begins Friday in Athens, W.Va. before concluding next Sunday in Wise.



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