WVU Baseball Wins Canisius Series, Goes for Sweep on Sunday

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    Kevin Kinder
    Kevin Kinder
    Muskets:

    The West Virginia University baseball team shut out its first opponent of the season in a 2-0 victory against Canisius on Saturday afternoon at Monongalia County Ballpark.

    The win gives the Mountaineers (9-8) their third consecutive weekend series victory, and they will go for the series sweep in tomorrow’s series finale. WVU improved to 2-0 to start its home slate.

    In a pitcher’s duel, sophomore right-hander Alek Manoah had his best start of the season and did not allow a run on three hits in 7.0 innings. He struck out a career-high-tying seven batters and walked four.

    For the Golden Griffins (10-6), starter Charlie Sobieraski gave up a two-run home run to WVU sophomore catcher Chase Illig in the first inning, but did not allow another run. In 7.0 innings, he gave up two runs on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts.

    “It was a tough day to pitch, a tough day to hit,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “So, you have to make the most of your runs on offense, and every out you get on defense becomes precious on a day like today. We did a really good job out of the bullpen. Both guys out of the pen pitched great. We actually swung the bats okay. We had their outfielders running back to the fence a bunch today. So, I’m pleased all the way around.”

    WVU’s bullpen of freshman left-hander Jackson Wolf and sophomore righty Sam Kessler held CC hitless in the final 2.0 innings. Kessler got the final two outs of the game to pick up his team-leading fourth save of the year.

    Offensively, Illig’s fourth home run of the season paced the way for the Mountaineers and drove in the game’s only runs. No player on either team had more than one hit on the day.

    The Mountaineers’ two-run first inning started with a single by junior left fielder Braden Zarbnisky. A fielder’s choice followed and a wild pitch put junior third baseman Ivan Gonzalez on second. That set up Illig, who homered to the WVU bullpen in right field on a 1-0 pitch.

    Zarbnisky has reached base in a career-high 13 consecutive games, a streak that began with the final three games of the 2017 season. He had one hit and two walks today.

    A 1-2-3 second inning for both teams followed, before the Golden Griffins had the bases loaded in the third. Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases with two outs, but Manoah got a groundout to end the inning.

    After a weather delay of more than 30 minutes in the middle of the third inning, both starting pitchers returned to the mound and looked better than they did before the delay. WVU stranded one in the bottom of the third before 1-2-3 fourth and fifth innings for both squads.

    Both West Virginia and Canisius got a walk in the sixth, and CC stranded the bases loaded again in the seventh on an infield single with two outs. However, Manoah got a fielder’s choice to keep the shutout intact.

    Wolf pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. He hit a batter with one out in the ninth and Kessler came in to get a double play on only two pitches to end the game and earn the save.

    The series at Monongalia County Ballpark concludes on Sunday at 1 p.m. Tickets are available for at WVUGAME.com, by calling 1-800-WVU GAME or on game day at Monongalia County Ballpark.

    The game will include a free video stream, radio broadcast and live stats. Dan Zangrilli and Ernie Galusky will call the action. The free video stream is available on WVUsports.com and the WVU Gameday App. New this season, fans also can access the video streams via Roku by downloading the West Virginia Mountaineers channel. Fans can listen to the game on the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG on various affiliates throughout the state, while fans across the country can tune in to the broadcast online at WVUsports.com and on the WVU Gameday App and the TuneIn App on their mobile device. Direct links to video streams, radio broadcasts and live stats can be found on the baseball schedule page on WVUsports.com.

    NOTES: West Virginia improved to 9-8 on the season and 2-0 at home … WVU has won two in a row and has secured a third consecutive weekend series win … The Mountaineers take a 7-4 lead in the all-time series vs. Canisius … WVU scored first for the 10th time this season and scored in the first inning for the sixth time … West Virginia has hit a home run in all but two games this year … Alek Manoah earned the win to improve to 1-2 on the season and allowed no runs on three hits with a career-high-tying seven strikeouts with four walks … Chase Illig hit his seventh career home run and fourth of the season in the first inning … Braden Zarbnisky reached base three times, extending his reached-base streak to a career-high 13 consecutive games, a streak that began with the final three games of the 2017 season …Sam Kessler got the final two outs and earned his fourth save of the season … Darius Hill’s hitting streak came to an end at nine consecutive games.

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