WILLIAMSPORT — Leonal Aponte was dominant on the mound for the Crosscutters on Thursday.
Aponte retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced — the only blemish was a hit batter in the first inning — and pitched four scoreless innings. He also snagged two hard-hit line drives.
Despite only throwing 40 pitches and not allowing a run, Aponte was pulled after four innings in Williamsport’s 6-2 loss to West Virginia.
Manager Pat Borders said the decision was made by the Phillies organization in order to develop pitchers, especially younger ones, properly.
“I’m not a medical person whatsoever, but the wear and tear on personal development may be better (based on) the number of pitches or innings,” Borders said. “They’re much more versed in that stuff than I am.”
Borders said he was pleased with Aponte’s performance.
“If you look back from his very first start … all the way to now, I think you can see the improvement on his breaking ball and his fastball, one helping the other, and both of them getting better,” Borders said. “So whatever (the Phillies) are doing is correct with him.”
Reliever Brian Marconi made his Crosscutters (4-16) debut and retired the side in order in the fifth. However, he only recorded one out in the sixth while allowing five runs on four hits.
Luke Mangieri reached on an error to lead off the inning. Dean Lockery and Cory Wood singled, and Jared Triolo doubled to put the Black Bears ahead 2-1. After a strikeout, Matt Gorski singled in a run to chase Marconi from the game.
Tyler Burch entered in relief and was greeted by a sacrifice fly, and Blake Sabol hit an RBI single to make it 5-1. Burch retired Mangieri, the 10th batter of the inning, to end the fifth.
In the seventh, the Black Bears were threatening to score again, but Williamsport right fielder Hunter Hearn threw out a runner at the plate to keep West Virginia’s lead at 5-1.
“I tried to hit the cutoff man in the chest, and once you start figuring out how to hit the cutoff man in the chest, then you can start adding a little strength to it,” Hearn said. “We’ve been practicing that a lot in the last week or so. Pat stays on us about making sure we hit the cutoff. We practiced a lot this week and I finally got the chance to do it in a game, and I guess that worked out for me.”
Hearn also reached base three times in the game, going 2-for-3 with two singles and a walk.
“I’m starting to get a feel for a higher-level baseball, basically just timing it (and) working on when I need to have my front foot down,” he said. “Today I was seeing it good and I was on time with everything, and being on time is what I was focused on.”
Hearn scored the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly by Tucker Maxwell to put Williamsport ahead 1-0 in the fourth inning.
West Virginia (11-9) added a run in the top of the ninth.
Herbert Iser homered to center field in the bottom of the ninth for the Crosscutters.