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Big 10 race could clear up

by Mike Nutter

SPORTS WRITER

The clouded picture that is now the Big 10 baseball race could clear up a little Monday.

Bridgeport, Liberty and Robert C. Byrd all sit atop the Big 10 with two conference losses each.

Liberty (11-5, 5-2 Big 10) plays host to Robert C. Byrd (9-5, 8-2) at 4:30 p.m. in a game which could go a long way to determining a the conference title.

After Monday, the Eagles have two games with Grafton and one with Lincoln remaining on their Big 10 schedule. Liberty has one more date with Bridgeport and South Harrison and two with Lewis County.

In the previous meeting, junior Brett McClain struck out 12 in a 6-4 Mountaineers win.

That game seemed to be a turning point for the Eagles, though. Since the loss, Robert C. Byrd is 7-1, including a win over the Indians.

Shortstop Jeff Straface batted 10-for-15 this past week after just three prior at bats this season.

Wednesday, Bridgeport has the task of playing Liberty and South Harrison in a doubleheader. The Indians defeated the Mountaineers, 9-4, Thursday in a much anticipated matchup and were held to just four hits in their previous meeting with the Hawks -- a 2-1 victory.

n BIG EFFORTS: Chris Lake got Robert C. Byrd a pair of crucial wins.

Lake struck out 10 and gave up just two hits in a victory over South Harrison. Saturday, he scattered three hits and fanned nine in a 3-0 victory at Lewis County.

Offensively, Straface was instrumental with his 10-of-15 performance, while catcher James Funk blasted four home runs, including two grand slams, and finished with 15 RBIs.

n TOUGH LOSS: Liberty junior Brett McClain suffered the first loss of his high school career Saturday in a 2-0 setback to Morgantown.

Even in defeat, McClain (4-1) was stellar, giving up just two hits and two unearned runs in six innings.

n MILESTONE REACHED: South Harrison coach Frank Lopez notched his 300th career win Thursday when the Hawks defeated Lincoln, 7-3.

The game was decided in the seventh on Drew Toth's game-winning grand slam.

Lopez coached at Sistersville, Notre Dame and Lincoln before taking over at South Harrison in 1999.

n AROUND THE STATE: In the most anticipated game of the season to date, Class AAA No. 1 Logan defeated Class AA No. 1 Chapmanville, 3-1. The Logan County rivals drew an estimated crowd of more than 1,200 to the game.

Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at sports@exponent-telegram.com.

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