WVU Baseball Gets Season Opening Win
Using five pitchers and relying on a five-run outburst in the middle innings, West Virginia got the 2018 baseball season off to a successful start with a 5-4 win over Jacksonville on Friday evening.
West Virginia scored four runs in the fourth inning, only to see the Dolphins respond with three in the bottom half of the frame. The teams then traded single runs in the fifth, and although that completed the scoring, it didn’t finish the action. Jacksonville put runners on in each of the last five innings, but a combination of five Mountaineer pitchers managed to hold them at bay. Releivers Shane Ennis, Cody Wood, Conner Dotson and Sam Kessler combined to throw the final 4.2 innings after starter BJ Myers reached the pitch count planned by head coach Randy Mazey,
“With men on base, they made quality pitches when the needed to,” head coach Randy Mazey told WVUSports.com.
West Virginia scored its four-spot in classic Mazey fashion. A run-scoring single, a bases loaded walk and two sacrifice flies pushed across the four runs, and seemed to set up Myers, who had three stress-free innings to that point.
Errors hut the Mountaineers after they plated their four runs. A throwing miscue from Myers allowed the Dolphins to start the rally, and the inning was extended when first baseman Marques Inman, making his first start after missing all of last season with a knee injury, dropped the throw on what would have been an inning-ending double play. Thus extended, the Dolphins smacked a two-run homer to cut the Mountaineers’ lead to 4-3. Chase Illig responded with a towering home run to right center, but Jacksonville pushed across a matching run in the bottom of the fifth to make it 5-4.
Illig was the only Mountaineer with multiple hits, collecting two in his start at catcher. Ivan Gonzalez, last year’s primary catcher, got the start at third base in place of Cole Austin, who transferred to Arizona State after last year. While Gonzalez will likely still catch some games, this move could be West Virginia’s standard set this year behind the plate and at third.
Shane Ennis was credited with the win after allowing two hits and no runs over 2.1 innings, although an inherited runner from Myers did score off one of those hits.
The series at continues Saturday, Feb. 17, at 2:00 p.m. Alek Manoah is the scheduled starter for the Mountaineers, while Tyler Santana is scheduled to take the hill for the Dolphins. Manoah was West Virginia’s designated hitter on Friday, going 1-5 with a run scored.