WVU Bats Boom In Rout Of Kansas
The West Virginia University baseball team scored 21 runs on 23 hits on the way to a 21-3 victory at Kansas on Friday night.
The Mountaineers (24-19, 7-9 Big 12) exploded for 21 runs on 23 hits, as 11 West Virginia batters had at least one hit and WVU scored three or more runs in five innings. Seven Mountaineers had multiple hits and seven drove in at least two runs.
WVU’s 21 runs and 18-run victory are both program-records in a Big 12 Conference game. And both are the most since WVU scored 22 runs on 29 hits in a 22-9 victory at No. 18 Coastal Carolina on Feb. 25, 2017.
“You can’t even pick anything that we didn’t do great tonight,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “We swung the bats great against a really good arm, we pitched really well and played great defense. It’s a continuation of what we’ve been doing the last couple of weeks.”
Junior second baseman Kyle Gray led the way offensively and extended his hit streak to 20 consecutive games with a career-high-tying four hits and four RBIs with four runs scored. He hit his 10th home run of the season and 13th of his career and was a triple shy of the cycle. Gray’s 20-game hit streak is the longest by a Mountaineer since Justin McDavid’s 21-game streak in 2010.
Two of Gray’s hits, and four RBIs, came with two outs, as he also extended his reached-base streak to 21 games.
“His experience, his maturity and his approach; he’s feeling great in the box right now, and I think that will continue,” Mazey said. “Other guys are starting to feed off of that and learn from him. They’re starting to do what he started doing 20 games ago, I think that’s why we’re all swinging it pretty well right now.”
Sophomore first baseman Marques Inman joined Gray with a home run, his sixth of the season and ninth of his career in the eighth inning. Inman had two hits and three RBIs and extended his reached-base streak to a career-best 18 games.
Along with Gray and Inman, junior left fielder Braden Zarbnisky (20 games) and junior right fielder Darius Hill (19) also extended their career-long reached-base streaks. Freshman third baseman Tyler Doanes had three hits, extending his hit streak to a career-best seven games.
Senior right-hander BJ Myers had a strong start on the mound. In 7.0 innings, he allowed two runs, one earned, on seven hits. He struck out three and walked one. It was his fourth quality start of the year and 17th of his career. After allowing an unearned run in the second and a run in the third, he retired the next 12 and did not allow another run.
Myers and the WVU bullpen held the Jayhawks (20-25, 3-12) to three runs on eight hits.
The Mountaineers jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second inning, scoring first for the 24th time this year. WVU sent nine men to the plate and scored five runs on three hits with the help of an error. Six consecutive Mountaineers reached, beginning with a single and back-to-back walks to load the bases for sophomore pinch-hitter Isaiah Kearns. He reached on a fielding error to bring in the game’s first run.
With the bases still loaded, junior shortstop Jimmy Galusky doubled off the top of the wall in center to score two. Zarbnisky followed with a two-RBI single up the middle to cap the five-run inning.
KU answered with a run in the bottom of the second, as the leadoff batter reached on a throwing error, but Myers limited the damage to one unearned run. Kansas scored another in the third to make it 5-2, on a one-out single up the middle. Myers got out of the jam and stranded a runner on third with an inning-ending double play.
West Virginia got both runs back, and added one more, in the fourth, scoring three runs to take an 8-2 lead. Hill got the scoring going with an RBI double to right-center, and he scored on Gray’s two-out double to right. Gray then stole third and scored on a throwing error by the KU catcher.
WVU added another five runs, on five hits with an error, in the fifth to extend its lead to 13-2. Hill’s RBI infield single scored the first run, and Inman followed with a sacrifice fly to bring home the second. With two down, Gray hit his 10th home run of the season to right, scoring Zarbnisky and Hill.
Meanwhile, after giving up a run in the second and one in the third, Myers retired the side in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
The Mountaineers extended their lead to 14-2 in the seventh, on a bases-loaded walk to Galusky that scored junior pinch-runner Andrew Zitel.
Back-to-back two-out hits in the bottom of the seventh halted Myers’ string of 12 consecutive batters retired, but he got a flyout to end the inning and strand two in scoring position.
WVU scored four more in the eighth to make it 18-2. Inman’s two-run home run got it started, and Kearns followed with an RBI double to center field. A sacrifice fly by Galusky brought home the inning’s final run.
Freshman left-hander Jackson Wolf struck out the side in the eighth, and the Mountaineers scored three more in the ninth, all with two outs. Zitel doubled home Gray and Hill, and freshman catcher Nick Denicola doubled to right-center to score Zitel. It was Denicola’s second career hit and second RBI.
KU scored one run on one hit in the ninth to make it 21-3, but could not get any closer.
The series continues on Saturday, at 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT, while Sunday’s finale is set for 1 p.m. ET/noon CT. Both games will be streamed via ESPN3 on WatchESPN and the WatchESPN app, while fans can listen to the game on the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG on various affiliates throughout the state. Fans can also tune in across the country on WVUsports.com and on the WVU Gameday App, as well as the TuneIn App on their mobile device. Dan Zangrilli will have the call. Direct links to the video streams, radio broadcasts and live stats can be found on the baseball schedule page on WVUsports.com.
NOTES: West Virginia improved to 24-19 on the season and 7-9 in Big 12 play … WVU has won four in a row and eight of its last 10 … The Mountaineers improve to 10-7 all-time vs. Kansas and 3-3 in Lawrence … West Virginia’s 21 runs and 23 hits are its most since WVU scored 22 runs on 29 hits in a 22-9 win at No. 18 Coastal Carolina on Feb. 25, 2017 … The Mountaineers’ 18 runs and 16-run victory are both program-bests in Big 12 Conference games … West Virginia improved to 18-6 when scoring first … Kyle Gray extended his hit streak to 20 consecutive games, the longest by a Mountaineer since Justin McDavid’s 21-game hit streak in 2010 … Gray hit his team-leading 10th home run of the season and 13th of his career in the fifth inning … Marques Inman hit his sixth home run of the season and ninth of his career in the eighth … BJ Myers earned the win to improve to 1-1 on the season … He had his fourth quality start of the season and 17th of his career … Gray (21 games), Braden Zarbnisky (20), Darius Hill (19) and Inman (18) all extended their career-long reached-base streaks.