Mid-Week Pitching Strong Again As WVU Shells Terps
Pitching is one of the biggest keys to winning college baseball games, and strong mid-week performances are often hard to find. Teams that develop a quality starter for those games have a huge advantage, and that was in evidence again for West Virginia on Wednesday against Maryland, as the Mountaineers got another very good outing from mid-week starter Nick Snyder in an 8-1 win at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium in College Park.
Most college teams fight to simply establish a weekend rotation — three reliable starting pitchers to handle the normal weekend three-game conference series that dominate the back end of the schedule. For some teams, mid-week games become bullpen days, with the hope that four or five pitchers can combine to hold an opponent in check.
Snyder, though, has turned the mid-week start into his own personal fiefdom — performing so well that head coach Randy Mazey recently hinted that he might be deserving of a weekend start. At this point, however, with the rotation humming along, there seems to be no reason to change.
Snyder, who has been an anchor for West Virginia in Tuesday and Wednesday games, gave up only one earned run on three hits in five innings in the win over the Terps. He struck out six and walked two, yielded no extra base hits, in earning his team-best fifth win of the season against only one loss. Snyder has been so good this year that this performance, as good as it was, actually raised his ERA from 1.75 to 1.76.
In his six midweek starts, he has allowed only three earned runs in 25 innings while striking out 25.
Maryland, on the other hand, had many woes on the mound. Terp starter Nick Turnbull walked three and uncorked a wild pitch while facing just five batters before being pulled after recording just one out in the top of the first. Daniel O’Connor lasted longer (2.1 innings), but gave up four walks and hit a Mountaineer, and Sean Heine followed with three walks and another HBP in 1.2 innings. By the time it was all over, UM pitchers walked 12 batters, hit two and uncorked two wild pitches to help the WVU effort.
The Mountaineers (20-12, 4-5) tallied four runs on just two hits in the first, as Maryland miscues set the table and helped push across WVU’s early scores. Tyler Doanes and Brandon White walked, and Darius Hill followed with a single to load the bases. All three advanced, with Doanes scoring, on a passed ball, and White then scored on Paul McIntosh’s RBI groundout.
Ivan Gonzalez walked and Kevin Brophy reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases, then the Terps helped again as Phillip Dull was hit by a pitch to push home the third run of the frame. Austin Davis then drove home the final score of the inning with an infield hit, plating Gonzalez.
The Mountaineers added a run in the third, and this one was 100% courtesy of the Terrapins. Four walks, the last one to White, forced Dull home. Tyler Doanes led off the fifth with a solo homer to extend the lead to 6-0. Andrew Zitel closed West Virginia’s scoring with a pinch-hit, two-run home run in the eighth.
While Maryland was forced to make some unplanned bullpen moves, West Virginia had the luxury of getting its corps some work on its own terms. Ryan Bergert relieved Snyder in the top of the sixth and kept the Terps off the board despite a one-out double, getting a pair of strikeouts to end the frame. The bullpen then encountered a couple of bumps. Zach Reid started the seventh, but faced just two batters (getting one out and hitting one) before Tristen Hudson trekked to the mound and walked the first batter he faced, but got a pair of pop-ups to strand two runners. Dillon Meadows struck out two in the eighth, part of a 10-K day for the Mountaineer staff. Brock Helverson loaded the bases in the ninth, but had a strikeout and a grounder to prevent any cosmetic runs.
Maryland dropped back to .500 overall on the season at 16-16, including 3-3 in the Big 10.
Hill and McIntosh had two hits each for WVU, and Doanes scored two runs. White worked three walks to lead a parade of seven Mountaineers who earned at least one free pass.
WVU returns home for a weekend series against Texas Tech on Friday. It will be the third consecutive Big 12 series against a Top 25 foe for the Mountaineers. West Virginia won the previous two such sets against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The series begins on Friday, April 12, at 6:30 p.m. ET, while Saturday’s first pitch is set for 4 p.m. The series finale is on Sunday at 1 p.m.
SEAMS AND BARRELS
West Virginia left 15 runners on base, and stranded three in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings.
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Maryland was 3-1 in its last four games, defeating William & Mary 16-10 after taking two of three from Illinois over the weekend. WVU evened its road record at 11-11.
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WVU has won four games in a row and five of its last six contests against the Terps.