WVU Runs Win Streak To Five As Offense Heats Up
Without question, the RPI of West Virginia’s baseball team is not a point of concern this year.
The Mountaineers, with their normal plethora of early season road games, plus a loaded Big 12 schedule, will have plenty of chances to grab ratings-boosting victories in 2019. They’ll have to win some of those, but they will also have to grab a majority of victories in non-conference games to boost their total to an attention-getting level. That’s why, even though it’s not a marquee contest, victories like Tuesday’s 9-3 decision over Morehead State are important.
Too many losses to quadrant three or four teams will wipe out big victories, such as the road win over Oregon State. That was a major factor in West Virginia’s failure to make the NCAA Tournament a year ago, and it is out to assure that mistake is not repeated. With its tenth win of the season coming some 17 days earlier than it did a year ago, WVU is poised to make a push before it enters the conference season.
Travelling to the neighboring state of Kentucky for the first of a two-game set, WVU (10-5) wasted no time in seizing control. Darius Hill crunched a three-run homer to right in the first inning to give the Mountaineers a lead they would never relinquish, and set a tone for the day. West Virginia had hits in eight of the nine innings, and kept the pressure on throughout the day against six Eagle pitchers with five extra base hits, six stolen bases and five walks.
West Virginia also continued to get excellent pitching, and sent just two hurlers to the mound. With another game scheduled for Wednesday and three more this weekend, preserving arms was a goal, and the Mountaineers should be in good shape for the upcoming stretch.
Starter Nick Wolf (2-1) allowed two earned runs on four hits in six innings to get the win, and struck out ten of the 27 batters he faced. He did walk four, but yielded only one extra base hit. Beau Lowery, who has gotten extensive work as a setup man, was effective over the final three innings, with just two hits and one earned run on his ledger. He did not walk a batter, struck out three.
Meanwhile, WVU’s bats continued to dominate the game. Paul McIntosh doubled home Kevin Brophy and scored on a wild pitch in the third, and two innings later the juco transfer clubbed a solo home run to push the advantage to 6-1. Morehead State scratched across a run on a double play, but the Mountaineers again responded, this time with an Ivan Gonzalez sacrifice fly to push the led back to 7-2. Two innings later, Tyler Doanes homered for the second time in as many games to give West Virginia an emphatic 9-3 victory.
McIntosh had a 3-5 day, including the homer, the double, two RBI and two runs scored. Doanes was 2-3 with two RBI, and Hill added the three run shot to get the Mountaineers going. Brandon White and Doanes each had two steals.
The two teams complete their mid-week series with another 3 p.m. meeting on Wednesday.