Brock Netter, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — Chillicothe and West Virginia have been rivals ever since the Paints entered the Prospect League.
Tuesday night, the rivalry added another classic chapter.
Tied 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Miners threw a wild pitch that allowed Chillicothe’s Cody Orr (Tiffin) to score and deliver a walk-off 4-3 victory.
“West Virginia’s pitcher was getting a little wild so I was just looking for one that I could take off on,” Orr said. “It was either that, or Gavin [Homer] was going to hit and drive me in.
“West Virginia has improved quite a bit and their pitching is much better,” Paints manager Brian Bigam said. “Our base running was really poor tonight, but the guys found a way to grind it out. I’ve always said I’d rather win and play ugly than lose and play well.”
Striking first has been the Paints’ M.O. much of the season. That continued after Cole Andrews (Miami) logged an RBI single, scoring Orr for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
Following two scoreless innings, West Virginia (11-25) got on the board with an RBI groundout from Bryan Yoder to tie the ballgame.
The Paints (23-13) responded in the bottom half in the form of an RBI double via Trey Smith (University of Indianapolis), which scored Homer and gave Chillicothe a 2-1 edge.
The Miners tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth with an RBI single by Ross Mulhall, but the Paints retook the lead at 3-2 after Orr slapped an RBI triple, scoring Ethan Hajdukovic (Western Michigan).
“Cody is such an important bat in our lineup,” Bigam said. “He’s a guy that we need to have out in the field every night and he’s fighting through some wrist problems. But he has a lot of speed and was able to find the gap and leg out a triple. He makes things happen.”
After West Virginia tied the game in the sixth off a Matt Ruyabo RBI double, it was a battle of the bullpens to see who would make the first mistake.
It turned out to be West Virginia, although the Miners nearly escaped.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, the Miners turned a 6-1-5 double play that seemed to take the air out of Chillicothe’s dugout.
But after a passed ball and a wild pitch, Orr trotted across the dish to send the Paints home a winner.
Nate Haugh (Toledo) earned the pitching victory in an inning of work, allowing just one hit and striking out a pair of batters.
Zach Kendall (Rio Grande) pitched five innings in a no-decision, allowing seven hits, two earned runs and striking out three batters. Jack Huisman (Western Michigan) took over for Kendall and tossed three innings, striking out three batters.
“Zach didn’t have his best stuff, but getting out of the bases-loaded jam and getting through five innings was big,” Bigam said. “Huisman got into a little jam as well but was able to grit through it. Nate did a great job keeping West Virginia at bay to give us a chance in the end.”
Orr finished 3-for-3 with an RBI to lead the Paints, while Andrews and Smith added an RBI each.
The Paints are back in action tomorrow at home against West Virginia. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m.
“We had a lot of mistakes tonight, but tomorrow is a chance is get better and we’ll be ready,” Orr said.
To find news, updates, and more information about the Paints, be sure to visit chillicothepaints.com.