WVU Flips Script, Capitalizes on Strong Starting Effort With Sterling Relief
In its baseball opener on Friday, West Virginia wasn’t able to take advantage of a stellar starting outing from Alek Manoah, yielding three runs in the seventh inning en route to a 5-3 loss.
On Saturday afternoon, the Mountaineers corrected that shortcoming. Off starter Jackson Wolf’s excellent five-inning showing, in which he yielded just one run, freshman Ryan Bergert came on for three shutout relief innings while the Mountaineers had three multiple score innings on the way to an 8-2 victory.
Wolf took advantage of WVU’s early offense, which got the Mountaineers on the board in the first inning for the second consecutive day. West Virginia loaded the bases on a hit batter and a pair of walks, and pushed one run across when Paul McIntosh worked the third free pass of the inning. The score went to 2-0 on Tristen Hudson’s sacrifice fly, which gave Wolf a nice starting point.
The lanky lefthander didn’t disappoint, allowing just a leadoff home run in the fifth inning to mar an otherwise clean sheet. Wolf yielded only four hits to 20 Panther batters, and struck out four against two walks. He also benefited from more efficient WVU defense, including a third inning double play to get him out of a two-on, one-out situation.
When Wolf exited the game, the situation was almost the same as Friday, with the Mountaineers holding a one-run lead. This time, though, the bullpen was up to the task. Ryan Bergert, making his first appearance in a Mountaineer uniform, hurled three innings of perfect shutout ball. Bergert struck out three of the nine GSU batters he faced.
In the meantime, West Virginia got its bats going after working the bases full with a single and a pair of walks. One run came home courtesy a wild pitch, then freshman Tevin Tucker smacked a two-run single. Brandon White added an RBI double, and by the time the dust cleared the Mountaineers held a 6-1 lead.
WVU added two runs in the ninth via a groundout and a sacrifice fly to push the advantage to 8-2, and while freshman Brock Helverson wasn’t as sharp as Bergert, he did manage to limit GSU to just one run on on two hits and a wild pitch.
Rightfielder Darius Hill continued his strong start, collecting two hits and a walk in five plate appearances. McIntosh ad Tuckr each had two RBI, while the Mountaineers worked GSU pitching for seven walks. WVU walked just two batters, and did not commit an error.
West Virginia will be right back in action this evening, as it faces Georgia Tech at 6:00 p.m. Jumior righthander Kade Strowd is the scheduled starter for the Mountaineers.