State News

WV MetroNews

The Voice of West Virginia

People with state insurance will pay more, but they can still influence in what way

Workers who have state insurance can have some say-so this week about three options that will all hit their pocketbooks.

Elaine Harris

“They’re pretty huge increases for folks, and that comes after years of no increases,” said Elaine Harris, whose work for the Communications Workers of America includes representation of troopers and corrections workers.

The Public Employees Insurance Agency is having public hearings around the state on whether to move ahead with premium increases of about 24 percent or whether to instead pick a different option that would increase premiums a little less but make up the difference through increased deductibles, out-of-pocket costs and prescription costs.

The main reason for the change is that a broad plan passed by the Legislature mandates a return to an 80-20 cost share between government employers and public employees. That ratio had gotten out of whack in recent years because of a reserve that state officials originally set up to hold premiums flat.

Public hearings about how to structure the increases will be Monday in Charleston, Tuesday in Huntington and Morgantown and then Wednesday in Martinsburg. And then this coming Thursday, the finance board is scheduled to meet again to decide which plan to use.

Harris hopes people are able to participate on relatively short notice.

“A concern I have is, we have folks — our members work in corrections; they’re also troopers out and about, working very structured work schedules — and how they can offer their input,” Harris said.

Major changes, effective July 1, 2023, include:

  • Imposition of the spouse surcharge for active employee policyholders from state agencies, colleges, universities, and county boards of education whose spouses are offered employer-sponsored insurance coverage but who choose to get coverage through a plan offered by PEIA. This change does not affect non-state agencies, retirees, spouses who are employed by PEIA-participating agencies, or spouses whose coverage is through Medicare, Medicaid, or TRICARE.
  • Increasing health premiums to get the plan back to an 80/20 employer/employee premium split for state agencies, colleges, universities, and county boards of education by July 1, 2023.
  • Increasing reimbursement to providers to a minimum of 110% of Medicare’s reimbursement.

The big issue at the public hearings will be three options to spread out the additional costs for people who are insured.

The first narrows any changes to premium increases only. For the fund for state employees, that would mean 24.2% premium increases for employees, varying across the program’s different plans. For workers at local entities that opt into PEIA, the option would mean a 15.6% premium increase. Retirees would not absorb any increase.

The second two options are described as blended approaches, raising premiums while also raising deductible and out-of-pocket costs.

The blended options also vary depending on what specific insurance plan each person has opted to take.

So, the first blended option anticipates raising premiums by 19.2% and non-state funds by 12.5%. Benefit changes would mean increasing medical deductibles and medical out-of-pocket expenses by about 25%. This would also dramatically raise prescription costs.

The second blended option includes a 14.6% increase for state employees. Medical deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses would increase about 50%. Again, prescription drug costs go way up.

For workers in non-state plans that opt into PEIA, the second blended approach would mean a 9.7% premium increase along with medical deductible and out-of-pocket increases of about 35%. And again, prescription drug costs would go way up.

Melanie Pagliaro

Local governments that opt into PEIA are aware that their workers, too, are in line to pay more under the three proposals.

“We have encouraged our members to attend the public hearings and speak on which plan is best for their county and employees,” said Melanie Pagliaro, executive director of the County Commissioners Association of West Virginia.

She said county budgets have been under a deadline for submission to the State Auditor’s Office by March 28, Tuesday, and some counties have already submitted theirs. If changes are necessary because of this week’s PEIA actions, counties would need to submit budget revisions after July 1.

Of the insurance plan alternatives, workers in relatively good health might get a financial break through the second two options that hold premium costs down. But those with bouts of illness could get hit harder.

“We in our younger days may not have had the need to utilize our healthcare benefits,” Harris said, “but later you do. As far as the pharmaceutical piece of it, most people are on some type of medication. In a perfect world, if you just had to pay premiums that would be one thing and you didn’t have the out-of-pocket, but I see there’s a combination of both.

“As I saw the options, it’s basically if you’re going for a lower percentage of premium increase it’s just shifting the cost over for out-of-pocket deductibles. I guess the best way to say it, it’s just shifting one area to another. I’m anxious to hear what people have to say about that, the people directly impacted.”

The first hearing is 6 p.m. Monday at the Culture Center in Charleston. There are two hearings on Tuesday: 6 p.m. at the Hampton Inn at Granville Square in Morgantown and also 6 p.m. at Mountain Health Arena in Huntington. And the final public hearing is 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Holiday Inn in Martinsburg.

Following the public hearings, the PEIA Finance Board will meet again to settle on one approach.

“It will be the reality: how does that affect me, how does that affect my family?” Harris said.

The post People with state insurance will pay more, but they can still influence in what way appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Former Regal resident remaining positive in months since fire

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It’s now been two months since the Regal apartment building caught fire and was tragically demolished. On January 26, residents of the four-story building quickly had their life flipped upside down.

Joshua Williams says things are starting to calm down for him and his cat he was lucky to save from the fire. He’s used these past two months to pay it forward.

“I was pretty blessed to receive the help that I got,” he said. “Now I try to help other people when I can.”

Residents were helped out with money sent their way from the United Way in the middle of the month. Williams has put that money towards a new apartment he moved into recently. He’s also gotten other donations from people near and far.

“I’m doing pretty good, not the greatest but as good as can be expected,” Williams said, who’s been staying busy working at his job.

He moved into his new apartment not too long ago after spending some time in January and February living with some friends. He was offered a stay at a hotel like many other the residents, but wanted that spot to go towards someone else.

“I didn’t need it, I figured someone else would need it more,” he explained.

The Charleston resident also said he was overwhelmed with the support he saw from people he knew and even people he didn’t.

“It’s been unbelievable, the overwhelming love I’ve gotten from people in the community,” Williams said gratefully.

Williams is keeping a positive attitude through it all while he says he’s waiting on a deposit from the Regal apartment management. Williams was told he was supposed to get a deposit back within a few weeks dating back to February, but now that waiting time has grown to 30-90 days.

“I don’t know what’s going on with upper management but it seems super unprofessional,” said Williams about those running the Regal. “There was a lot of problems over there.”

He said he called an office in Utah to get some clarity or some sort of explanation, but didn’t hear back. He’s left multiple messages. Williams is using this situation to try and teach others a lesson.

“Vet who you’re renting from.”

The post Former Regal resident remaining positive in months since fire appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Appalachian Power restoring service following wild weekend weather

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Upcoming weather in the state appears to be more calm than the wild and windy weather over the weekend.

Appalachian Power reported more than 58,000 customers lost power Saturday evening following the extreme wind gusts that downed many trees and power lines statewide.

The company said in a news release Sunday some counties with customers may have to go to Monday before their power is restored including Clay, Fayette, Kanawha. The counties of Cabell, Jackson, Lincoln, Marshall, Mason, Ohio, Putnam and Wayne were hit the hardest, according to Appalachian Power, and they may be without service till Tuesday.

Appalachian Power’s online power outage map as of 3 p.m shows five counties still have over 1,000 outages: Wayne, Cabell, Lincoln, Mason, Kanawha. There’s just over 15,000 outages total statewide that still need to be addressed. Updates on outages and restoration efforts may be found on Appalachian Power’s web page.

More than 1,000 workers are helping to restore the power which include 600 line workers, 250 tree removal workers and 150 damage assessors.

Company officials remind residents that downed lines are dangerous and should be avoided as they carry an electric current that can cause fatal injuries.

The post Appalachian Power restoring service following wild weekend weather appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Two dead in apparent murder-suicide in Braxton County

SUTTON, W.Va. — Authorities in Braxton County believe a shooting that left two people dead to be a murder-suicide.

Authorities in their initial investigation of the shooting said the situation began as a domestic violence incident.

West Virginia State Police said Lorelei King, 41, and Leo Raymond King, 63, were found on a porch in critical condition at a Edgewood Acres residence in Sutton

It was described in a news release from the state police that the two had been shot and first responders provided first aid at the scene. They both later died from their injuries.

The post Two dead in apparent murder-suicide in Braxton County appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Doug Nester readies for fifth season of college football, and a busy month of April

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Fifteen practices are scheduled for the WVU football team over five weeks and for the most part, the schedule is pretty routine. Doug Nester has one date on his calendar that stands out and it has nothing to do with donning his No. 72 jersey.

The Spring Valley High School graduate is set to be married on April 8, taking advantage of a gap in the practice schedule over Easter weekend. Nester says his fiancee, a teacher, has taken charge of all the arrangements.

WVU OL Doug Nester – Mar 25, 2023; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; The West Virginia football team participates in spring training. Photo/Ben Queen (

“She has been doing it while I am up here. She has been planning the wedding,” Nester said.

Nester is entering his fifth season of college football. He played two years at Virginia Tech before transferring to WVU in 2021. In November, Nester walked with his family on Senior Day ceremonies prior to the Kansas State game. But he elected to return for an additional season of eligibility after conversations with his coaches.

“I just had to talk it over with my family, talk it over with the coaches and really just see what was the best option for me. Talking it out with them, it was just an easy decision that I should come back.

“This will be my fifth year of actually playing. I was to the point where I was almost done. It was a little bit of convincing.”

Nester played both tackle and guard at Virginia Tech but he has been used almost exclusively at guard since arriving at WVU. This spring however, Nester has been working outside at right tackle. Head coach Neal Brown says the move is part of a continual effort to get the best five offensive linemen on the field.

“I just feel like it is more natural, not being inside and contained,” Nester said.

WVU offensive lineman Doug Nester. (Photo by Teran Malone)

“Tackles in general, you are more on an island. It is more of you versus the other man in front of you. At guard, you are usually always on double teams or working with somebody. I just find it more enjoyable to go against another man one-on-one.”

Nester, Zach Frazier and Wyatt Milum are three multi-year starters returning to the offensive line. That position group is the most experienced unit on the Mountaineer roster.

“We talk about a lot just how we have to come in an be the leaders of this offense because we all have that experience. We have to bring it every day because the team is going to rely on us.

“There’s a lot of different components to O-line work. Just knowing how on each play, whether it is inside zone, outside zone how the person next to you like to block it or how they will move is very important.”

If Nester remains at right tackle when the season begins, both tackle spots will be held by Spring Valley graduates. Wyatt Milum is firmly established as the team’s left tackle.

“I think he developing into a really great player. Each and every day I can see him getting better and better. We watch film with each other all the time and hang out with each other all the time. On the field, I think he is improving so much. I think it is incredible.”

The post Doug Nester readies for fifth season of college football, and a busy month of April appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Local law enforcement and peer recovery support specialists teaming up to tackle substance abuse

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — More help is coming to support people struggling with substance abuse and misuse in Fayette County and beyond through the launch of the state’s first Police and Peers Program.

The Department of Health and Human Resources Office of Drug Control Policy is partnering with the Fayetteville Police Department, West Virginia Sober Living, and Recovery Point West Virginia to oversee the new peer recovery support services program.

It will usher in the mitigation and reversal of opioid use, and include case management and motivational interviewing to de-escalate situations involving behavioral health, substance use, and domestic violence. The program will also provide referrals and treatment for people to get further help with substance misuse.

The Interim Director of the West Virginia ODCP, Rachel Thaxton, said that following the $3.16 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to fund the program over four years, they took the opportunity to collaborate with local law enforcement to get it off the ground.

Rachel Thaxton, Interim Director of the WV Office of Drug Control Policy

“Law enforcement is a partnership that we’re always trying to strengthen, and so, we saw this opportunity when the SAMHSA grant was released to place peers and law enforcement agencies around West Virginia, and we took that opportunity,” Thaxton said.

The program works by pairing Peer Recovery Support Specialists with law enforcement officers to go and respond to certain substance abuse and misuse cases that pertain to non-violent, non-law enforcement-specific occurrences.

Thaxton said that once an emergency call is made to law enforcement, and after they have responded to the scene and have settled any legal disputes or issues, they will call the peer support specialists to the scene if they determine that they are needed.

“They can clearly see that the people involved may have substance use disorder issues or other special service needs, then they will call the peer out to the scene and allow them to deal with those issues, which they’re experts in,” she said.

The peer support specialists are hired from Recovery Point and WV Sober Living.

The DHHR, regional recovery services, and local law enforcement have all been firsthand witnesses of the opioid crisis that has pervaded the state throughout recent decades, and they recognize that there is a great need for such a service that the program will provide to help alleviate the epidemic.

Fayetteville Police Chief, Glenn Chapman, said that based on such a need, the program will help serve as a step toward recovery.

“I see the need in our communities of people needing help in many ways including substance misuse. I believe the Police and Peers program is a step in the right direction,” said Chapman. “Not only does it help the community, but it helps the first responders. Together, we will change lives.”

Thaxton said this program will provide an even greater outlet to offer to residents who need help.

“Really is just another chance for us to do outreach and have another touchpoint to reach out to people,” she said. “This population can be difficult to reach sometimes and this just give us another way to interact with them and let them know what’s available for them in West Virginia,” Thaxton added.

While the Fayetteville Police Department was the first to sign on to the Police and Peers program, Thaxton said other law enforcement agencies across the state are also starting to join the initiative.

The ODCP will work to train law enforcement on the awareness and stigma behind Substance Abuse Disorder, an endeavor which Thaxton said they are excited to extend to them.

“We’re always excited about forming those relationships, because, they do play such a vital role in someone’s pathway to recovery sometimes,” Thaxton said.

The Logan Sheriff’s Department, Bluefield and Princeton police departments, and the Morgantown Police Department are more agencies which are expected to be implementing the program in the near future.

The post Local law enforcement and peer recovery support specialists teaming up to tackle substance abuse appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Casino visitor lost money, off-duty trooper took it, off-duty trooper returned it, trooper abruptly retired and superintendent is out

Gov. Jim Justice has a definite opinion about a bank envelope that wound up in the wrong hands on May 29, 2021.

Jim Justice

“Basically any way you cut it, that money was stolen,” the governor said.

The incident the governor was discussing was a big factor in last week’s abrupt resignation of Jan Cahill, who had been State Police superintendent for the past six years.

The basic facts are relatively straightforward. But interpretations of the initial actions by the man who temporarily wound up with the money and the more recent response by authorities have been subjects of broader debate.

Is walking off with a found envelope of money an act of dishonesty or a crime? What if it’s returned in a timely manner? What if the person who took the money is a law enforcement officer? Should the officer be relieved of duty? If the officer retires and is off the force, is that as just effective as employment termination? And to what degree should the officer’s top boss be held accountable?

The situation began about 11:20 May 29, 2021, when a patron of the Mardi Gras Casino & Resort in Cross Lanes reported to a security manager that he had lost the bank envelope about half an hour earlier, according to an incident report that was filed in the case.

The man remembered getting up from a machine, walking to a self-serve soda machine and getting a drink.

Security video that state officials released shows that scene unfold. The man gets up from the machine where he has been playing, walks away and leaves behind an envelope on the seat.

Before two minutes have gone by, a man in jeans, a t-shirt and a ball cap walks by the machine, accompanied by a woman. The man picks up the envelope and looks at it. The woman sits down at the adjacent game, and the man who now has the envelope walks off — with casino cameras recording his image everywhere he goes, including his departure.

The casino’s security team was able to see all of this, noticed the man picked up the envelope and had left the property, according to the incident report. The video allowed the security team to identify the Ford 150 the man drove away in, along with its license plate number.

With that information, investigators ran the plate number, identified the driver, got in touch, recovered the envelope and accounted for $731.

The envelope of money was returned to the casino about 2:22 p.m., according to the incident report.

The next day, May 30, 2021, the man who lost the money returned to the casino about 11 o’clock and got it back.

“No further information at this time,” the incident report concluded.

Jan Cahill

The issue arose again this past Feb. 16, when then-Superintendent Cahill met with Brian Abraham, the governor’s chief of staff, one day after the revelation of the broader investigation of the State Police.

At that meeting, Cahill heard for the first time about the captain who was accused of walking off with the money. They also discussed another trooper who had handled the case without moving to prosecute or loop in higher authorities.

A statement released after that meeting to television news reporters stated that Abraham “recommended that Col. Cahill terminate the employment of both troopers involved by the close of business on February 16, 2023.”

Instead, on Feb. 17, Cahill received a written and brief retirement request on State Police letterhead.

“The undersigned officer requests permission to retire from the West Virginia State Police effective at 2400 hours on Friday, February 17, 2023. It has been my sincere pleasure and honor to serve on your Senior Staff.”

Cahill had predicted that would be the result.

“At no time was I ordered to fire anybody,” Cahill said on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” saying that Abraham had told him to handle the situation as he saw fit.

“But I told him the person that’s in question on this, I said, ‘I know he’s got like 29 years in. I know he’ll just retire.'”

Cahill said he could not prevent the retirement. “Now the Consolidated Public Retirement Board, if they feel like they want to review something that somebody did…”

Cahill also said he could not have fired the trooper immediately.

“I could absolutely not have fired him that day,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how egregious an act a person does right in front of us. All we could do is put someone on administrative leave, perhaps without pay, do an investigation and then I could say this person’s terminated — and then they still have 10 days to review the actions against them.”

Brian Abraham

Abraham acknowledged that he left the decision up to Cahill — but he said he, too, knew how that would turn out.

“Now yes, I ultimately left the decision how to deal with it up to him,” Abraham said on “Talkline,” “but quite frankly I gave him rope and I knew he’d hang himself because I knew he was going out of here, the day he left, and do what he normally does — and that is nothing.”

During a news briefing last week, Abraham displayed a set of bullet points to emphasize that Cahill had options to move toward terminating the troopers. That includes placing any employee on administrative leave, with or without compensation, pending investigation.

On the retirement, Abraham said, “a petition for retirement can be filed, but that’s required to be signed off on by the colonel before that can be granted. And any time there are matters of discipline that are pending, the colonel is within his discretion to deny that retirement pending the outcome of those investigations.”

Abraham, a former county prosecutor, called the incident at the casino “theft.” But he said charges are unlikely at this point.

“Given the delay between the discovery of the incident by Homeland Security and this coming to the public eye, the statute of limitations has likely run that would prohibit a prosecution of that charge,” he said.

“The amount of money involved was just a little bit more than $750 in cash, which would have labeled that as a misdemeanor petit larceny, thus the statute of limitations. So I don’t believe even if we intended to turn that over there’s much that could be done at this date, except for the disciplinary action.”

The post Casino visitor lost money, off-duty trooper took it, off-duty trooper returned it, trooper abruptly retired and superintendent is out appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

DNR hatcheries ready for the 2023 Gold Rush

ELKINS, W.Va. — Over the course of the next two weeks the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will stock thousands of pounds of golden trout into selected fishing waters in the popular annual event dubbed the “Gold Rush.”

“This will be our sixth year for the Gold Rush. Basically, it’s a regularly scheduled stocking only the difference is we stock with all golden rainbow trout rather than a mix like we normally do,” said Jim Hedrick the head of Hatchery Programs for the West Virginia DNR.

The Gold Rush started as a way to attract more families and children to fishing in West Virginia. It’s been a hit.

“We have people calling throughout the year, even from other states, asking about when it will be because they like to plan vacations around it,” Hedrick explained in a recent visit on West Virginia Outdoors.

The waters stocked are specifically designated to be a little more family friendly than most remote mountain streams.

“About two thirds of the locations we stock are in lakes. The reasoning behind that is we knew that lakes are a little easier for children to fish. You’ll also see all of the State Parks on the list because those parks have resources for families. There are restrooms, often food, and other amenities that can be important if you’re spending the day fishing with family and if you have young children,” he said.

The stockings are also timed to coincide with spring break and Easter for many so school will potentially be out and create the opportunity for some vacation time.

As for the fish, it takes some planning. The fish are part of the regular trout program and are raised as part of the program rather than an addition. Hedrick said it takes some logistics.

“We’ve continued to keep the hatcheries at full capacity. Because it’s a regularly scheduled stocking, at the hatcheries we’ve basically replaced some of the areas where we rear rainbow trout, we’ll rear golden trout. Overall the number of fish and poundage is exactly the same, it’s just that we’ve changed the color to have enough fish for this Gold Rush event,” he explained.

The West Virginia Golden Trout was pioneered in West Virginia. The first one was noticed to have a golden color at the Petersburg hatchery in the 1950’s. In hopes of isolating the gene they took the original fish which was a female and spawned her with a regular rainbow. Initially the offspring all looked like normal rainbow trout, but eventually from that single female about 300 golden trout emerged. Over time, hatchery managers crossed golden trout with other golden trout and increased the percentage of the brightly colored outcome.

“As far as I know pretty much all of the other golden trout across the country came from the original West Virginia stock. I know some other states tried to pioneer it, but weren’t very successful. As far as I can tell, West Virginia is where all others have come from,” Hedrick said.

Learn more about the Gold Rush.  Anglers who catch a golden trout are encouraged to post pictures of their catch to social media with the hashtag #GoldrushWV

The post DNR hatcheries ready for the 2023 Gold Rush appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Clarksburg native Jim Crutchfield leads Nova Southeastern to NCAA title, 111-101 over West Liberty

(Story by Taylor Kennedy)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Saturday’s Division II men’s basketball national title game featured multiple storylines that could become part of a movie, including Nova Southeastern head coach Jim Crutchfield facing his former team, West Liberty, and apprentice Ben Howlett.

The Sharks never let their foot off the gas in a 111-101 victory over the West Liberty Hilltoppers in the men’s Division II national title game Saturday afternoon in Evansville, Indiana.

“It has been a storybook season with a storybook ending to it,” Crutchfield mentioned. “West Liberty is a great basketball program. I thought it was a great game. I thought it was everything everyone wanted it to be. Both teams scored over 100 points, and the action was non-stop.”

West Liberty’s Ben Sarson (24) drives to the net as the West Liberty Hilltoppers play the Nova Southeastern University Sharks during the championship game of the 2023 NCAA Division II Men’s basketball tournament at Ford Center in Downtown Evansville, Ind., Saturday afternoon, March 25, 2023.

The win caps off Nova Southeastern’s 36-0 undefeated season, and the Sharks became the sixth Division II team to finish their season unbeaten. West Liberty’s finished its 2022-23 campaign 33-4.

“I want to congratulate Coach Crutchfield and Nova Southeastern,” said WLU head coach Ben Howlett. “I am happy for him. I played and worked for him. He deserves this national title. I am super-disappointed we lost the game. These guys are good people. That is what is important to me is that they are good people. They are the total package.

“I am proud of our team. They have nothing to be ashamed of.”

Howlett remains confident in his program after appearing in his first national title game as West Liberty’s head coach.

“We will be back,” Howlett noted. “We will be back here. This ignites me, and I hope it ignites our players. We are going to work even harder. We will have two weeks off, and then it is back to work to prepare for next season.”

Nine players from both sides recorded double-figures, including WLU’s Bryce Butler leading all scorers with 32 points. Three players for Nova Southeastern scored 20 or more points. Former Hilltopper Will Yoakum scoring a team-high 31 points.

Nova Southeastern’s RJ Sunahara added 28 points, and Dallas Graziani posted 24.

West Liberty guard Christian Montague scored 19 points Saturday afternoon.

Both sides traded multiple runs and big baskets throughout the first half, including both teams combining for 15 points in the final 1:38.

A Zach Rasile three-pointer cut West Liberty’s deficit to four, 52-48, with 34 seconds remaining. Rasile connected on three triples.

However, Yoakum responded with a three of his own with four seconds remaining to give Nova Southeastern a seven-point advantage going into the half, 55-48.

The Hilltoppers knew they must keep the same pace as the Sharks to stay within arms reach. WLU finished the first half shooting 46 percent. Yet, West Liberty’s defense allowed Nova Southeastern to shoot 63 percent in the first 20 minutes, including 50 percent from the perimeter.

“We got off to a bad start and did some uncharacteristic things of us in the first few minutes,” Howlett noted. “We spent most of the first half digging ourselves out of a hole. We had cut the lead down to four points, but they hit a three just ahead of the horn to go up seven at the half, and I thought that gave them a big boost.”

The Sharks stretched their lead out to double-figures midway through the second half. Still, West Liberty largely remained in striking distance to a Butler triple, cutting WLU’s deficit to ten, 90-80.

However, Nova Southeastern answered by scoring eight of the following nine points to give the Sharks their largest lead at 17, 98-81.

West Liberty continued to fight in the waning minutes of the game. The Hilltoppers got as close as five, 106-101, with 29 seconds remaining following a Butler triple.

But the Sharks closed the game by scoring five free throws, including three from Kobe Rodgers.

The post Clarksburg native Jim Crutchfield leads Nova Southeastern to NCAA title, 111-101 over West Liberty appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Traxel goes the distance, late power surge lifts WVU to series win over Xavier

(Photo gallery by Teran Malone)

GRANVILLE, W.Va. — After back-to-back walk-off victories, the Mountaineers decided to take most of the drama out of the game an inning earlier on a windy Saturday afternoon at Monongalia County Ballpark. West Virginia used a four-run eighth inning and a complete game from Blaine Traxel to defeat Xavier, 7-2.

WVU (18-5) has won three consecutive games and 12 out of their last 13 games. Randy Mazey earned his 500th victory as a head coach.

“I didn’t have any idea. That’s awesome,” Mazey said. “I just told the guys that Tevin Tucker has been here for all 500. That’s cool and all but I don’t believe I have ever won a game. It is the players that win a game.”

Leading 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning, JJ Wetherholt broke the game wide open with a three-run home run. It was Wetherholt’s sixth homer of the season. Wetherholt went 4-for-5 in the game.

“He ended up going with a two-seam away, which is kind of my pitch. Thankfully I was on it and put a good swing on it,” Wetherholt said.

“It is pretty obvious he is seeing the ball pretty well regardless of who they put out there. If that situation arises tomorrow, I would be surprised if they pitch to him,” Mazey said.

On the very next pitch, Braden Barry followed that up with a solo home run to extend the WVU lead to five runs.

With a one-run lead extended to five runs, Traxel stepped to the mound looking to secure his fourth complete game of the season. He pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to cap a performance that included seven strikeouts.

“He was going back out there regardless. He only threw about 110 pitches. That is like taking the day off for him,” Mazey said. “Somebody asked me about his pitch count and I said, ‘I could care less about his pitch count’. He gets better as he goes. He is a better pitcher at pitch 100 than he is a pitch one. When he pitches a game, he wants to pitch the game, which is pretty cool.”

“Something I take pride in is trying to get better as we go,” Traxel said. “The more adversity, the more runners on base and tough situations, that’s kind of where I thrive. You have to like those situations if you want to be a starting pitcher that wants to throw late in games.”

West Virginia never trailed in the game. Dayne Leonard’s RBI double in the first gave the Mountaineers a 1-0 lead. Ellis Garcia hit a solo home run in the fourth to give WVU a 2-1 lead.

The Mountaineers look to complete a series sweep Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.

The post Traxel goes the distance, late power surge lifts WVU to series win over Xavier appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews