By Gary Fauber Assistant Sports Editor
With two Prospect League championships and a fifth postseason berth in six seasons already assured, the West Virginia Miners already have the perception of being a winning program.
But there’s another perception manager Tim Epling is worried has started to develop.
The Miners snapped a two-game losing streak Saturday by defeating the Butler BlueSox 7-5 Saturday at Linda K. Epling Stadium. Stone Osborne was 4-for-4 and scored three runs, and reliever Masashi Sakamoto and James Doubet shut the BlueSox offense down after the sixth inning.
The game took a compelling turn with two West Virginia ejections in the bottom of the fourth.
Jesus Vilalobos and Ray Lopez led off with consecutive singles. Vilalobos, however, was picked off at second, and Lopez was then thrown out trying to steal.
Lopez argued the call and was immediately ejected. Epling walked out and, after an argument with umpire Jack Simmons, was tossed as well.
Catching coach Joe Goddard managed the rest of the game.
“Our kid gets thrown out for telling the umpire that (second baseman David Marcus) missed (the tag), I go out to ask the umpire exactly what was said (and) he didn’t tell me the truth. I heard our guy say what he said,” said Epling, who was in the third base coach’s box. “Then I told him it was an immature call, that he overreacted, and he threw me out, which is uncalled for. Those are not expressions to get thrown out at this level, or any level. The guy overreacted and it cost us players.
“It’s getting really out of hand. I’m just being honest with you.”
They were the sixth and seventh ejections this season for West Virginia. Hitting coach Greg Keaton was ejected in Friday’s 6-1 loss at Chillicothe, Lopez was thrown out of a game earlier this season and Dylan Harvey was tossed June 28 at Champion City, right before Epling was ejected for the second consecutive game.
Lopez will miss today’s game against the BlueSox, and could face further discipline because of the second ejection.
Epling’s concern is that teams and league officials have the perception that he has no control of his team. Before this season, the Miners had just one player ejection — Clayton Prestridge in 2011 at Butler.
“There are certain rules of the game you have to go by, but when you have inexperienced guys that really don’t know how to handle situations — especially those — you know, something’s got to be done about it,” Epling said. “For one year, to have four, five, six, seven ejections? Are you kidding me? I’ve never had that. We have control over our kids.
“These guys have got to do a better job of handling situations. Right now it’s not about balls and strikes or safe and out. It’s about being able to deal with having conversation with adults and not taking things so personally. There were no conversations where there were grounds to be thrown out.
“I’m the biggest critic of umpires, anyway. But I know when they do right and I know when they do wrong. And, me personally, something’s got to be done about it.”
The Miners still were able to get a couple runs in the fourth. Osborne and Conor Grove singled to chase Butler starter Josh LaPiana. Reliever Jon Laird walked Dylan Harvey to load the bases.
Osborne and Grove scored on a single by Dom Iero, putting the Miners ahead 6-2.
The BlueSox chipped away. David Marcus drove in a run with a double and later scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-4 in the fifth.
Allan Hooker tripled to lead off the sixth and scored on Tymon White’s groundout to get Butler within 6-5.
The Miners built a big early lead with a three-run third.
Osborne led off with a double and Grove reached when he struck out but took first on a wild pitch. Harvey’s bunt single loaded the bases with nobody out.
Osborne scored on Iero’s sac fly. Sterry drove in Grove on a groundout and Dan Ward singled to right to make it 4-1 Miners.
The BlueSox had 11 hits over the first six innings but were held to just one walk in the final three.
James Doubet pitched two scoreless innings for his fifth save of the season.
The Miners got Doubet an insurance run in the eighth. Osborne led off with a single and raced all the way around on reliever Tim Faix’s errant pickoff attempt.
The teams meet again at 2:05 p.m. today.
Notes: Today will be Qdoba Kids Day, with all kids 12 and under will be admitted free. … Matt Anderson (4-0, 1.06) will start for the Miners. … Attendance was 1,322. … Harvey now has 31 stolen bases, seven off the Prospect League record.
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