The West Virginia Miners were looking for pitching after losing most of their first-half staff.
They found some Saturday night in Kokomo, Ind.
Gordon State College sophomore Tyler Wirsu hurled a gem in his first Prospect League start, allowing just one run on four hits over six innings as the Miners downed the Kokomo Jackrabbits 11-2.
Wirsu had only one strikeout in his outing, but few Jackrabbits made solid contact. He walked only three and never ran into any serious trouble.
Connor Grove, who’s spent most of the entire season as a catcher, took the mound for the first time this summer in relief and performed well. He pitched the final three innings, allowing only one run on five hits.
By that time, West Virginia was in full control.
The Miners’ offense jumped on Kokomo early, plating a pair of runs in the opening frame to set the tone.
It all started with two outs when Justin Paul reached base on a walk. Dan Ward followed with a single and then took off for second. Paul, who had taken third on Ward’s single, came home to score on the throw to second, giving the Miners their first run.
Weeks followed with a single, and an error allowed another run to score, giving West Virginia the early advantage.
Ward scored his second run of the game in the third, reaching base on a single and then scoring on a Jesus Villalobos RBI-double.
The lead grew in the fourth when James Keller, the first hitter Jackrabbits reliever Tommy Bordignon faced, drew a walk and eventually came around to score on a Dom Iero single that gave the Miners a 4-0 lead.
But the bats weren’t nearly finished.
A Stone Osborne double began the top half of the sixth, but he was erased on a fielder’s choice that left the Miners with only a runner at first with two outs.
Dylan Harvey, though, swiped second, getting himself into scoring position and moving one step closer to the Prospect League record. The stolen base was his 34th of the summer, and the record stands at 38.
Paul then struck again, scoring Harvey with a single. A Ward single scored another run, and the Miners entered the bottom of the sixth with a comfortable 7-0 cushion.
Kokoma finally broke through with a run in the sixth on a Mark Zimmerman single that led to a Shea Molitor RBI-double, but the Miners got that run back plus three more in the seventh when Ray Lopez doubled, advanced to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a Jackrabbit error.
James Keller singled and Harvey walked, chasing reliever Ryan Cheek, and Iero drew a walk off Nick Martin to load the bases for Paul.
His big night continues as a double scored three more and put the Miners ahead by double-digits, 11-1, a lead that was never threatened.
Ward led the Miners at the plate, going 3 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. He improved his batting average to .379. Iero was 2 for 4 with a pair of runs scored and an RBI, while Paul was 2 for 4 with four RBIs and a pair of runs
Zimerman and Molitor had two hits each for the Jackrabbits, driving in a run apiece.
Ryan Fleming took the loss for Kokomo (21-22, 6-8 second half), giving up three runs, two earned, in three innings of work to fall to 2-2.
The Miners (26-16, 6-6 second half) will head to Davidson Stadium in Springfield, Ohio, today for a doubleheader with the Champion City Kings. The Kings enter the day with an 8-4 second-half record and are only a half-game behind the Chillicothe Paints in the second-half standings.