WVU Baseball Misses Opportunity In Opener
West Virginia wasted an excellent outing from starting pitcher Alek Manoah as it dropped a 5-3 decision to Kennesaw State in its 2019 season opener.
Manoah was dominating in six innings of action, striking out 13 Owl batters. He allowed just one earned run on five hits, and showed good control, firing 58 strikes in 79 pitches while facing 24 batters. He did have a wild pitch and hit a batter, with the former contributing to the only earned run he allowed, with that coming in the sixth inning.
Manoah faced the minimum three batters in the first, second and fourth innings. He worked out of a bases-loaded situation in the third with a pair of strikeouts sandwiched around a force play at the plate. An error cost him another 1-2-3 inning, and a run, in the fifth.
The big righthander departed after the sixth with the Mountaineers (0-1) holding a 3-2 lead, but the roof fell in on them in the seventh.
With junior Nick Snyder on in relief, the Owls (1-0) patiently waited him out, loading the bases on a hit batter and a pair of walks. Over that stretch, Snyder managed just four strikes on 14 pitches, which led to the first collegiate appearance for West Virginia native Beau Lowery. The lefty induced a grounder to shortstop Tevin Tucker, but a potential inning-ending double play went by the boards on a throwing error by second baseman Tyler Doanes, which allowed two runs to score. A single brought home yet another unearned run, putting the Mountaineers into a 5-3 hole.
Lowery held the Owls in check in the eighth, but WVU could not push anything across in the final two frames.
Earlier, WVU jumped out to a lead when Darius Hill tripled in the first and came home on juco transfer Paul McIntosh’s RBI groundout. The Mountaineers added two runs in the top of the sixth on Ivan Gonzalez’ single with the bases loaded, but a Tucker flyout ended the inning.
West Virginia came into the year with defense and middle relief pitching in question, and both were critical in the loss. Two errors in the infield, plus the shaky relief showing, were the difference in the game in which Kennesaw had jsut six hits to WVU’s eight.
For WVU, Tyler Doanes was 2-4 and Marcus Inman 2-3 on the day, while Gonzalez also had a hit for the Mountaineers and a pair of RBI.
Due to forecasts for bad weather, West Virginia is now scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 16. The Mountaineers will face Georgia State at noon and Georgia Tech at 6:00 p.m. Lefthander Jackson Wolf is slated to start against the Panthers, while Strowd is scheduled to go against the Yellow Jackets. The games will be played at two different locations, with the opener at the GSU Baseball Complex and the nightcap at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Notes: West Virginia is 0-1 on the season … WVU played Kennesaw State for the first time in program history … Alek Manoah struck out a career-best 13 batters in 6.0 innings, nearly doubling his previous career high of seven … Manoah’s strikeout total is the most by a Mountaineer since Michael Grove struck out 13 twice and Chad Donato had 13 once in 2016 … Senior right fielder Darius Hill started his team-leading 177th career game and 106th consecutive contest, while sophomore catcher Paul McIntosh and freshman shortstop Tevin Tucker each earned their first starts as Mountaineers and made their WVU debuts … McIntosh recorded his first RBI as a Mountaineer in the first inning.