The all-star break wasn’t much of a break at all for the West Virginia Miners. With six players and manager Tim Epling all taking part in the event in Richmond, Ind., Wednesday night, most of the Miners stayed busy.
Officially, though, the Miners will return to action for the first time since July 5 tonight in Chillicothe, Ohio, when they take on the Chillicothe Paints at 7:05 p.m. at VA Memorial Stadium.
The Miners (2-3 second half, 22-13 overall) split a pair with the Paints at home prior to the all-star break and are just 3-5 in their last eight games since a string of nine straight wins helped them lock up the Prospect League East Division first-half championship.
While the Miners have little on the table in the second half — they’ve already locked up a playoff spot, they’ll have home field advantage in the division finals and the West will have home field advantage in the championship series because of an 11-3 win in Wednesday’s all-star game — they will greatly impact the second-half race among the rest of the league’s teams.
Staying sharp to prepare for the postseason is also important.
The Paints (2-4 second half, 17-17 overall) definitely have playoffs motivation the rest of the season. They’ve won just one of their last five games but are still just two games behind the Champion City Kings and the Butler BlueSox, who sit tied atop the second-half standings in the East.
Following tonight’s game, the Miners will return home for a two-game set with the BlueSox (4-2 second half, 17-16 overall). Saturday’s game will begin at 7:05 p.m. and will be First People’s Bank Gold Out Night, with all fans encouraged to wear gold. Sunday’s 2:05 p.m. start will be Qdoba Kids Day, with kids 12 and under gaining free admission to Linda K. Epling Stadium.
The Miners are led at the plate by all-star Zach Sterry, who’s hitting .328 with 26 RBIs. Jonathan Weeks is hitting .247 with 24 runs driven in, and Justin Paul is hitting .314 with 23 RBIs.
Matt Anderson (4-0, 1.06 ERA) is the Miners’ top performer on the hill, but he will make just one more start before being shut down by his college coach.