MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia’s hitters were kept off-balance by Texas Tech starting pitcher Mason Montgomery all day while Red Raider batters were timing up Mountaineer offerings from the start of Sunday’s series finale at Monongalia County Ballpark. The result was a 10-1 bashing in favor of the visitors as the Mountaineers dropped to 14-16 overall and 5-7 in the Big 12 Conference.
The Red Raiders broke the game open the fifth and sixth innings, scoring a pair in the top of the fifth on a two-run homer to left, then erased all doubt with a six-run sixth which featured four consecutive hits, including a pair of doubles and a home run that just slipped over the right field wall inside the foul pole. All of the damage came with two outs, and was assisted by a walk and a hit batter.
The Red Raiders (26-8, 7-5) got on the board first, aided by the first of a pair of WVU fielding miscues that didn’t show up as errors. Tech leadoff hitter Easton Murrell singled to center, but the ball skipped past Mountaineer outfielder Victor Scott and rolled to the wall, allowing Murrell to advance to third. A Dru Baker sacrifice fly plated Murrell for an early 1-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth, Cal Conley doubled to center and came around to score on a sacrifice fly and an RBI groundout.
West Virginia rallied for a run in the bottom of the fourth with the assistance of a Tech misplay of a Mikey Kluska pop-up, which first baseman Cole Stillwell and second baseman Jace Jung allowed to fall between them. Hudson Byorick’s triple off the right field fence pushed Kluska across, but that was it for the Mountaineer offense on the day.
Montgomery had a career outing for Tech, striking out 12 WVU hitters, including the first five he faced, as he forced them to chase well-located pitches. He allowed just one walk and two hits, tossing 71 strikes on 105 pitches while facing just three batters over the minimum. Tech reliever Chase Hampton and Levi Wells cleaned up with 2.1 efficient innings of unblemished baseball, adding four strikeouts to the Red Raider total. In all, the trio produced seven 1-2-3 innings.
“The old cliche is actually true. A good pitcher will beat good hitting,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey noted. “The [starting pitcher] on Friday and the guy today pitched really well for those guys. They are not easy to hit.”
Without a mid-week game scheduled at this point, West Virginia is set to return to the road next weekend for a three-game league series at Kansas State from April 23-25. Friday’s contest is set for 7 p.m. ET.
SEAMS AND BARRELS
Eight of Tech’s 14 hits came with two out, as the Red Raiders were 8-17 at the plate in those situations.
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West Virginia has only one mid-week game left on its schedule – a home contest on May 5 vs. Pitt. Scheduling has proved problematic as many teams and leagues have limited non-conference play.
“We are looking every day and seeing who gets rained out or Covided-out and who has an opportunity to play. We are trying [to schedule more],” Mazey said.
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West Virginia put just 12 batted balls in play on the day. Six of those were infield popups. WVU batters struck out 16 times on the afternoon against only two hits, with one of those the Kluska pop fly that the Red Raiders allowed to drop.