WVU baseball drops finale but wins series at No. 10 Baylor


WACO, Texas – The West Virginia University baseball team lost the final game of a three-game series at No. 10 Baylor, 5-1 on Sunday afternoon at Baylor Ballpark.

Despite the loss, the Mountaineers (10-8, 2-1 Big 12 Conference) return home with a series win in their first Big 12 series of the year after a 7-1 win on Friday night and a 6-5 victory on Saturday.

WVU scored one run on nine hits with no errors, while the Bears (16-4, 1-2) scored five runs on nine hits with one error. The series loss was BU’s first of the year and the two home losses were its second and third of the year in 14 games.

“Actually, this was one of our best games we’ve played all season offensively,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “We had nine hits and hit the ball really hard all day long against a pitcher that nobody else has hit. I’m encouraged by the offense today, even though we obviously didn’t get the result.

“We got some really quality innings out of some freshmen arms in the bullpen that showed they can go through a Big 12 lineup. There were a ton of positives today. To come down here and win the series, the first series of the year and on the road, says a lot about our team.”

West Virginia suffered its first loss against a ranked team, and is now 4-1 against top-25 opponents.

Offensively, sophomore designated hitter Marques Inman had three hits, going 3-4, while junior left fielder and senior first baseman Jackson Cramer both had two hits. Additionally, sophomore third baseman Cole Austin had one hit, extending his hitting streak to a career-best 10 games.

Junior right-hander Conner Dotson (3-2) suffered his second loss of the season, allowing five runs on six hits in 4.1 innings. He struck out four and walked five.

Following Dotson, four freshman right-handers combined to throw 3.2 shutout innings, allowing just three hits with two strikeouts and no walks. Kade Strowd, Sam Kessler and Alek Manoah all pitched 1.0 innings.

Baylor took its first lead of the series with a solo home run by Shea Langeliers in the first inning. BU added another run and led 2-0 in the third inning, thanks to a bases-loaded sacrifice fly.

The Bears scored three more runs in the fifth inning, on a three-run home run to right field by Kameron Esthay, to extend their lead to 5-0.

The Mountaineers had runners reach in five of the first six innings, but two double plays, a pickoff and a caught stealing in four of those innings prevented WVU from scoring.

WVU got on the board though with a run in the seventh inning. With Cramer on first, Inman doubled down the left field line to send Cramer to third. A sacrifice fly to center by sophomore right fielder Darius Hill scored Cramer to cut the Mountaineer deficit to 5-1.

Runners reached in the eighth and ninth innings, but WVU could not put more than one runner on base in each of the final two innings.

The Mountaineers travel to State College, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, March 22 at 6:30 p.m. ET, to face Penn State. After WVU’s home opener on Tuesday, March 14, was postponed, the game at Penn State marks the last of 19 consecutive road games to begin the season.

NOTES: West Virginia falls to 10-8 on the season, 2-1 in Big 12 Conference play and 4-1 vs. teams ranked in the top-25 … West Virginia leads the all-time series against Baylor, 8-7 and trails in Waco, 5-4 … Cole Austin extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games, the second-longest streak by a Mountaineer in 2017 … Four freshmen relievers combined to allow no runs on three hits with two strikeouts and no walks in 3.2 innings … Starter Conner Dotson pitched 4.1 innings, allowing five runs on six hits with four strikeouts and five walks.

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WVU 6,

Baylor 5

WACO, Texas – The West Virginia University baseball team won a back-and-forth affair, 6-5, to win the series at No. 10 Baylor on Saturday afternoon at Baylor Ballpark.

The Mountaineers (10-7, 2-0 Big 12 Conference) won their first conference series of the season, scoring six runs on 12 hits while holding the Bears (15-3, 0-2) to five runs on seven hits. WVU improved to 4-0 against teams ranked in the top-25 and goes for its second weekend sweep of the season tomorrow at noon ET/11 a.m. CT, in Waco.

“All the games we play early in the season on the road kind of hardens you a little bit,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “It toughens your team up a little bit. We lost some of those games, but that’s experience nonetheless. Playing in a lot of tight games late as the road team and you just learn how to win them. Every time they scored, we answered. It got late in the game, we made some big plays defensively and came out with a win.”

The Mountaineers had runners reach base in all but one inning and never trailed. West Virginia took an early 3-0 lead, but Baylor chipped away until eventually tying the game at 5-5 in the seventh inning.

WVU answered in the ninth inning though, thanks to a two-out RBI single by sophomore third baseman Cole Austin. With the bases loaded and a new pitcher in for the Bears, Austin singled to center to score freshman pinch runner TJ Lake. The go-ahead run put the Mountaineers ahead for good, 6-5.

WVU handed BU just its third loss of the year at home and first series defeat of the season.

Along with his game-winning RBI, Austin had a career-high-tying four hits and extended his hitting streak to a career-best nine games. Three Mountaineers had two hits, highlighted by sophomore Kyle Gray. The second baseman had two hits and three RBIs, both season-highs.

Sophomore right-hander Michael Grove got the start and pitched 5.0 innings, allowing two unearned runs on three hits with five strikeouts and two walks. Reliever Braden Zarbnisky earned his second win of the season, pitching the final two innings and allowing just one hit.

The Mountaineers got on the board with three runs in the second inning. Sophomore right fielder Darius Hill led off the inning with a single and scored from third on a single by freshman catcher Chase Illig. Sophomore shortstop Jimmy Galusky followed with a single to put two on, and with two outs, Gray tripled to right field to bring in Galusky and Illig.

Grove stranded a runner in the bottom of the second and had the help of a caught-stealing to face the minimum in the third before Baylor scored two unearned runs in the fourth to cut the WVU lead to 3-2. With two outs and two runners on, a fielding error scored the first run and a single plated the second.

West Virginia bounced right back though, with a run in the top of the fifth and another in the sixth to make it 5-2. With two outs in the fifth inning, senior first baseman Jackson Cramer was hit by a pitch and a single advanced him to second. He scored on Hill’s single through the right side, sliding in just under the tag of the Baylor catcher.

In the sixth, Gray doubled with two outs to score Illig, who led off the inning with a single. Gray’s second extra-base hit of the day extended the WVU lead to 5-2.

Baylor again cut into the Mountaineer advantage with two runs in the sixth. With freshman right-hander Isaiah Kearns on the mound for Grove, a double was followed by a two-run home run by Kameron Esthay.

The Bears tied the game at 5-5 in the seventh. With the bases loaded and one out, senior righty Jackson Sigman relieved Kearns and got a ground ball, but WVU couldn’t turn the double play, and an unearned run scored.

As they did all game though, the Mountaineers responded with Austin’s single in the ninth put the Mountaineers back on top for good.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, a Baylor baserunner reached second base with one out, but he was picked off, Illig to Galusky, and Zarbnisky got a strikeout for the game’s final out.

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