WVU Baseball Drops Opening Series Finale
The No. 22 West Virginia University baseball team lost its season-opening series finale at Jacksonville, 2-1 on Sunday afternoon at John Sessions Stadium.
The Mountaineers (1-2) were held to one run on one hit, a home run by sophomore first baseman Kevin Brophy in the second inning. The Dolphins (2-1) answered with a run in the second and one in the fifth and had nine hits. WVU pitchers stranded eight JU runners on base.
Sophomore right-hander Isaiah Kearns got the start for West Virginia and allowed one run on six hits in 2.2 innings. He struck out four and walked one. He was relieved by sophomore righty Kade Strowd, who gave up one run on three hits in 3.1 innings. Strowd suffered his first loss of the year.
Kearns, Strowd, freshman righty Tristen Hudson and senior right-hander Shane Ennis combined to hold Jacksonville to two runs on nine hits. Hudson and Ennis combined to allow no hits in the final 2.0 innings. For the third consecutive day, the WVU pitching staff stranded eight or more Jacksonville runners on base.
For the Dolphins, starter Mike Cassala pitched 6.0 innings and allowed one run on one hit with five strikeouts and two walks.
Brophy provided WVU’s offense in the second inning with his first career home run. The two-out long ball cleared the right field fence after two hard-hit balls by the Mountaineers in the first inning and another in the second resulted in fly outs.
WVU’s lead was short-lived though, as Jacksonville tied the game at 1-1 with a leadoff base hit and back-to-back two-out singles in the bottom half of the second.
Two Dolphins reached with two outs in the third, and Strowd relieved Kearns. He got a flyout to end the inning.
Three consecutive runners reached in the fifth inning with two outs, on a fielder’s choice and two singles, and JU took its first lead of the game, 2-1.
Meanwhile, after a one-out walk in the third inning, Cassala retired 11 consecutive Mountaineers before the bullpen pitched a perfect last three innings.
After a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh, Hudson got the first two outs of the inning. Ennis then came on and got a flyout on the first pitch to end the inning and keep the WVU deficit at 2-1. The senior followed with a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
The second week of the season sends the Mountaineers to Conway, South Carolina, for the Brittain Resorts Invitational, hosted by Coastal Carolina, from Feb. 23-25. After going 4-0 at the event last year, WVU will play VCU twice and Illinois and Coastal Carolina once. The weekend begins vs. VCU on Feb. 23, at 11 a.m. ET, before a doubleheader on Feb. 24, vs. Illinois at 11 a.m. and against VCU at 6 p.m. WVU and CCU square off on Sunday, Feb. 25, at 2:30 p.m.
NOTES: WVU falls to 1-2 on the season … The all-time series between WVU and JU is tied, 3-3, with both teams winning the series at their home ballparks … Kevin Brophy hit his first career home run in the second inning … In his season debut, starter Isaiah Kearns pitched 2.2 innings and allowed one run on six hits with four strikeouts and a walk … For the third consecutive game, WVU pitchers stranded eight or more JU runners on base.