TRENTON, NJ – The West Virginia Black Bears captured their second straight MLB Draft League title with a 9-4 win over the Trenton Thunder in the Championship game. The Bears took the lead and never lost it through Sunday’s contest at Trenton Thunder Ballpark. Starting pitcher Brady Tedesco completed eight innings of work and added nine strikeouts to his season total. Patrick Lee, who led the offensive charge, blew the game wide open in the fifth with a three-run home run.
The Bears quickly took control early in the game. After a scoreless top of the inning, Brady Tedesco began his outing with a strikeout in the bottom of the first. West Virginia caught Kolby Johnson stealing for the second out with a quick throw from catcher Harold Torres to second baseman Tyner Hughes. Tedesco ended the inning with another strikeout to send the Bears back to the plate.
West Virginia’s bats began heating up in the second inning. Manny Vorhees led off with a single before advancing on a groundout by Anthony Hansen. Vorhees moved to third and Cam Ridley reached on a fielding error by Dan Covino to put Bears on the corners. Tyner Hughes brought home the first two runs of the game on an RBI double smacked to left field. Heading into the bottom of the inning, the Black Bears led by two.
Tedesco and the defense held the Thunder off the bases through the bottom of the third. The MLB Draft League strikeout leader picked up one more in the second, as the Bears retired the side in both innings.
After two quiet innings, the West Virginia offense exploded with a four-run frame in the fifth. Another double from Tyner Hughes put a runner in scoring position before Noah Lucier hit an RBI-double to left field that plated Hughes for a 3-0 lead. Trenton pitcher Lane Miller intentionally walked Ben McClain with Patrick Lee stepping up to bat. On a 3-1 count, Lee smashed a 418-foot home run over the center field wall for three more runs. Thunder manager Jeff Manto called to the bullpen after 0.1 innings and sent in Tommy Benincaso for Miller. Benincaso secured the final two outs, but the Bears led 6-0.
Relentless at the plate, the Black Bears took an eight-run lead the next inning. Lucier reached on another fielding error by Covino, giving Cam Ridley enough time to make it home. Two consecutive singles from McClain and Lee scored the eighth run as Lee picked up his fourth RBI of the night.
West Virginia continued to run up the score into the seventh. With Hansen and Hughes on, an RBI single from Harold Torres drove in Hansen for a 9-0 lead. Though the Bears loaded the bases, Trenton managed to end the inning on a flyout. Heading into the home half of the inning, the Thunder trailed by nine.
Trenton finally scored in the bottom of the eighth. Jack Lynch put a ball high in the air that breached the right field wall for a solo home run.
The Thunder rallied in the bottom of the ninth with three more runs. Jarrett Miller entered to start the inning, taking over for starter Tedesco. Miller picked up two strikeouts before Trenton put two runners on base with back-to-back singles. Anthony Abbatine sent one into shallow center field to cut the lead to seven. A double from Angel Mendoza scored Justin Guerrera and Abbatine to bring the score to 9-4. After another mound visit by West Virginia manager David Carpenter, Miller and the defense secured the final out of the game on a flyout to left field.
In another fantastic showing from the Colorado native, Brady Tedesco picked up his seventh win and nine more strikeouts in the Championship game. Tedesco, who leads the league in strikeouts, ended his eight-inning start with five hits, one run and no walks. The left-handed ace holds the MLB Draft League single-game strikeout record (15) and finished the season with 85 strikeouts through 59 innings pitched.
Patrick Lee picked up where he left off in the regular season and drove the offense through the game. The former William Carey athlete went two-for-four at the plate with four RBI and a home run. Tyner Hughes added two RBI in the Championship game as he recorded two hits and one run in four at-bats with two clutch doubles.
With the win, the Black Bears have now claimed back-to-back league titles, capturing the 2022 MLB Draft League Championship at Monongalia County Ballpark last September. West Virginia finished the 2023 season with a 46-27 regular season record, and a 31-16 record in the second half. The Bears clinched a trip to the Championship game with a win over the Mahoning Valley Scrappers on August 29 after finishing second to Trenton in the first half.
For more information and game day stats, please visit www.WestVirginiaBlackBears.com.