WVU Breaks Open Pitching Duel To Take Game One of W&M Series
Friday night pitching match-ups in college baseball typically feature the most accomplished starters for both teams. The fact that the lid-lifter on the three game West Virginia – William & Mary series was pushed back a day did nothing to change the early dominance shown by Mountaineer starter Alek Manoah and Tribe hurler Wade Strain.
Through four innings of the opener of Saturday’s doubleheader, the duo allowed no hits and combined for ten strikeouts, sending a parade of batters back to the dugout. It was shaping up as game in which a couple of runs might be all that was needed to win, but then the Mountaineers broke it open in their half of the fifth.
Leading off, Kevin Brophy drove a ball over the right centerfield wall to give the Mountaineers a 1-0 lead. More important, it opened the floodgates against Strain, who came into the game with a 2-0 record and an excellent ERA. Four consecutive singles followed, scoring two runs, and Darius Hill cleaned up with a two-RBI double to give the Mountaineers a 5-0 lead.
One inning later, back-to-back hits piled up more runs. Paul McIntosh and TJ Lake had a pair of doubles, and Brandon White singled both home. White then stole second and came around on Tevin Tucker’s single to give WVU its third run of the inning and push its lead to 8-0.
In the top of the seventh, Hill had his second extra base hit of the game, driving a deep blast over the right field wall that landed in the parking lot and denting a car in the process to extend the margin to 9-0.
Over the same span, Manoah suffered no such breakdowns. He got out of a two-on, two-out situation in the fifth with a strikeout, and allowed a single unearned run in the seventh, but again stranded two with a fly ball out to end the inning. In earning the win to move to 3-1 on the season, he gave up four hits and three walks while striking out nine.
Thus cushioned, WVU (11-6) was in the position to get its younger pitchers some more work, and they responded well. Freshman Zach Ottinger rebounded from a previous rough outing to hold the Tribe to a single hit in the eighth, and fellow first-year player Madison Jeffrey closed out the ninth with only a walk marring his appearance.
Those performances allowed Manoah to lower his ERA to 1.75, while the team’s dropped to 2.13.
At the plate, Hill’s big day included three hits and three RBI. Ivan Gonzalez had a pair of knocks and drove in a run, while the bottom of the order also produced. White was 2-3 with two runs scored and two RBI, while Tucker backed him with two hits of his own, which drove in two runs.
The win, which was Randy Mazey’s 200th at WVU, moved the Mountaineers to 10-6 on the season.
The Mountaineers and Tribe (12-3) square off in the second game of the doubleheader on Saturday afternoon. Jackson Wolf will start for WVU, while William and Mary will send Bodie Sheehan to the mound.