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Local sports from the Exponent and Telegram for July 23

Upshur falls to Logan; Nationals defeat Beckley 12-4

by Charles Casey


(July 23) Logan used a 13-hit attack to easily down Upshur County 16-4 in a game called after five innings by the mercy rule at the West Virginia state Babe Ruth tournament Wednesday.

Logan scored seven times in the first inning to take control. Bill Wooten had a two-run triple, while Lance Haught, Brandon Chambers, Ryan Starr and Mark Dowden each added RBI singles during the inning.

The Wildcats scored three more runs in the second to extend their lead to 10-0.

Dowden's two-run single highlighted the outburst.

John Steele started and earned the win for Logan. He gave up just one hit over the first two innings before giving way to Dowden, who pitched two more shutout innings of relief.

Dowden, Starr and Steele had two hits apiece for Logan.

Upshur County pushed across all four of its runs in the fifth. Luke Payne drove in two runs with a single, while Mike Day added an RBI hit.

Logan advances to the winner's bracket of the double-elimination tournament.

It will play at 8 p.m. today against the Harrison County Nationals.

Upshur County will play tonight at 5:30 against the Harrison County Americans in a loser's bracket game.

HARRISON COUNTY NATIONALS 12, Beckley 4: In the second game, the Harrison County Nationals rallied for five runs in the fifth inning to earn a winners' bracket victory over Beckley.

Beckley led 2-1 after four innings, before the Nationals began their rally.

Three hits and two costly Beckley errors paved the way for the comeback.

Mookie Mayer blasted a two-run double to right-center, while the other three runs came home on errors.

Keith Small went the distance to earn the victory. He gave up two runs on seven hits, struck out 12 and walked three. He came out in the beginning of the seventh, but had to return in relief to finish the game.

Joe Moore and Paul Graeber paced the Nationals' 14-hit attack with three hits apiece. James Michael Funk and Mayer had two hits apiece for the Nationals.

Salem rolls past Shinnston to force showdown

by Doug Comer


Wednesday night's Little League District 5 12-year-old all-star game was an ESPN highlight show -- at a smaller scale, of course -- for the 75 fans who attended the game at Clarksburg City Park.

There were infielders making outs from deep in the gap, outfielders diving for fly balls and pitchers stabbing line drives with cat-quick reflexes.

And like in the major leagues this season, the home runs came, too.

Battling back out of the loser's bracket, Salem forced another game with its 6-3 win over Shinnston, which had its unblemished tournament record spoiled.

The two meet again for the title at 6:30 tonight at Clarksburg City Park.

The highlight show started quickly. After Shinnston's Ryan Demarco drew a walk, Adam Southern hit a grounder to shortstop Josh Nutt.

Nutt stepped on second for the force, then completed the first inning double play with a throw to first.

In the bottom of the first, Shinnston also showed good defense as pitcher Chris Hurst snagged a hard grounder up the middle and got the runner at first to end the inning.

Both teams continued to shine in the field through a scoreless first three innings.

Salem then broke the scoreless tie in the fourth, coming up with three runs.

Starting pitcher Derek Bowen began things with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Eric Golden then drew a walk.

Still with no outs, Nutt hit a line drive over the left-center wall for a homer.

Salem added three more runs in the fifth for a 6-0 lead.

Nutt was a factor again, doubling in a run and later scoring on Gregg Pigg's single.

However, Shinnston staged a comeback, scoring three runs in the top of the sixth off Shawn Fortney's three-run homer.

Bowen picked up the win for Salem while Hurst, who went the distance, took the loss for Shinnston.

Nutt came on in relief in the sixth and retired the side.

For Salem, Nutt went 2-for-3 with four RBIs and a homer while Pigg went 2-for-2 with an RBI. Bowen also was 2-for-2.

Fortney led Shinnston, going 1-for-3 with three RBIs and a home run.

Spice Boys: Well-seasoned WVU offensive linemen key

By Joedy McCreary

Staff Writer

(July 23) These five performers consistently work up a sweat while playing to a national audience. Their most loyal fans will pay anything for a ticket. They're expected to keep in perfect rhythm.

They used to be anonymous. Now, they're everywhere -- on radio talk shows, newspaper pages and the Internet.

The Spice Girls? Sure. But also West Virginia University's starting offensive linemen.

True, I'd never want to see Randy Dunnigan in a Union Jack-style mini. And I'd head for the hills if Solomon Page showed up on my doorstep singing the chorus to "Say You'll Be There."

But under the never-blinking eyes of Mountaineer football fans, these guys carry the Spice World of WVU's forthcoming season on their less-than-petite shoulders.

Generally speaking, offensive linemen are typically thrust helmet-first into anonymity. With a potential Heisman Trophy contender named Amos lining up behind them, though, linemen in Morgantown have come into attention like never before.

The regional and national media have certainly taken notice of them. Three returners earned all-Big East status in 1997. And with West Virginia's quintet receiving plenty of preseason acclaim -- after all, these guys were named the best line in the Big East by The Sporting News -- the "big uglies" are no longer no-names.

They're full-time celebrities.

You can't just push a beat-up car, on which is spray-painted all 11 WVU opponents, across the Mountaineer Field turf -- as these guys have spent the summer doing -- and not expect cult-hero status.

You can't sprint headstrong up WVU's law school hill -- as the linemen have done repeatedly -- and not anticipate students and fans to bow to them with deference, as if they were guest stars on "Wayne's World."

And with the Spice Girls' concert in Pittsburgh last week, now is the perfect time to draw a few comparisons.

For instance:

n Randy Dunnigan, Scary Spice: Just ask any defensive lineman from Rutgers or Temple and chances are, he'll confirm this 6-foot-3, 320-pound brute is as scary to face on the field as he is at the all-you-can-eat buffet.

n Eric de Groh, Posh Spice: The adjective "posh" is defined by Webster's as "elegant or fashionable." And de Groh spent a few weeks in Arizona as a member of the Playboy All-America team, for which he'll appear in an upcoming issue. What could be more fashionable than that?

n Solomon Page, Ginger Spice: Some have called Page potentially the best Mountaineer offensive lineman -- ever. And since he's the lone underclassman who could possibly bolt from the group early, he's most like ex-Spice Girl Ginger, who I think is currently hawking pasta makers on infomercials.

n Bryan Pukenas, Sporty Spice: Arguably the best complete athlete on the offensive line, Pukenas successfully made the switch from the defensive side of the ball. In my book, that makes him as sporty as they come.

n Brock Holland, Baby Spice: Holland, the line's newest face who will likely replace the graduated Sam Austin at right tackle, is the "baby" of the group. Just make sure his hair is out of pigtails, OK?

But wait.

There's more.

Strength coach Al Johnson, who has practically made bulking up these bruisers his own personal mission this summer, is Old Spice.

And the Milan Puskar Center's weight room, where the bench presses and other equipment are housed? The Spice Rack, of course.

See, the point is, never before has WVU's offensive line gotten so much attention in the preseason.

But then again, not often have Mountaineer blockers proven that they are worthy of getting their names on the marquee or in the paper, where they'll tell you what they want, what they really, really want.

Namely, a win over Ohio State.

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