Four WVU Pitchers Combine On No-Hitter As Mountaineers Blank Kent State
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After West Virginia put up eight runs in the first three innings against visiting Kent State, the only drama left for those in attendance at Monongalia County Ballpark was whether or not the Mountaineers could hold on to the no-hitter that starter Tyler Strechay had begun on his most impressive start as a Mountaineer.
That they did, as Dillon Meadows, Skylar Gonzalez and Jacob Watters combined to complete the final four innings with zeroes in the hit column to complete the rare feat in WVU’s second home game of the 2020 season.
After a couple of tough outings to open his Mountaineer career, Strechay (1-1) was flawless. He came into the game having yielded nine hits and five earned runs in four innings in three different appearances, but set down all 15 Golden Flashes he faced on an ultra-efficient 58 pitches, 42 of which he threw for strikes.
“Strechay went out there and dominated the game with his fastball,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said. “I tell these guys all the time it doesn’t matter how good your curveball is or how good your change up is, pitching always comes back to your fastball. If you can command it an keep it out of the middle of the plate and throw strikes with it, you will always have success.”
Make that unqualified success. On a day with a 15-20 mph wind blowing out to left field, Strechay and his relievers kept the ball down in the zone and out of the wind. Kent State (6-5) did get decent barrels on a couple of pitches, but the Mountaineers’ speedy outfield easily tracked them down. Strechay showed excellent control, going to 3-2 counts on just two of the 15 Golden Flashes he faced.
Watters did make things interesting in the ninth, as did the Mountaineer defense. He went to 3-0 on the first Kent State batter before fighting back for a strikeout, but walked the next. WVU (8-4) also committed an error in the infield on a grounder that would have ended the game before Watters got another one that first baseman Alec Burns snared and flipped to the covering Watters for the final out.
WVU batters set the stage for the pitching intrigue by jumping on Kent State starter Zach Schultz (0-2) early in a continuation of last weekend’s 13-run outbursts in Virginia. The Mountaineers put up single runs in each of the first two innings before erupting for six runs in the third. The big blows there were Kevin Brophy’s monster 3-run shot off the clubhouse behind the right field bull pen, followed three batters later by Victor Scott’s two run homer to left that rode the big wind over the wall.
“It feels good to get one; it’s been a while,” said Brophy, who has slimmed down a bit but clearly has suffered no loss of power. His day at the plate moved his average to .314 on the season.
One inning prior, first baseman Matt McCormick unleashed a big drive to deep center that cleared the 400-foot sign for the third home run of his Mountaineer career, which also gave him the team lead.
Braden Zarbnisky and Brophy each had two hits for WVU, with Brophy’s three-RBI and Scott’s two topping box score. Six of WVU’s ten hits went for extra bases, with two doubles, a triple and the three home runs filling up those columns of the stat sheet.
West Virginia returns to the road this weekend for a series at Mercer in Macon, Georgia. The first game is scheduled for Friday at 6:00 p.m., with single games also slated for Saturday (2:00 p.m.) and Sunday (1:00 p.m.). The Bears are currently 10th in the RPI, with only an extra-innings loss to No. 14 Florida State marring their 11-1 record.
SEAMS AND BARRELS
West Virginia’s media guide and stats list only those no-hitters that have been pitched by one hurler. There are eight such games, with the most recent being Josh Whitlock’s no-no against Coppin State on Apr. 3, 2007.
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WVU cut Kent State’s lead in the series to 20-15, and has now won four straight against their Ohio neighbors. The win was the 13th consecutive mid-week non-conference victory for the Mountaineers.
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WVU stole four bases in five attempts and continues to apply pressure in the finest Mazey ball fashion. The Mountaineers have now recorded 28 steals in 33 attempts this year.