WVU Warms Up For Big 12 Opener With Rout Of Youngstown State
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia made quick work on Tuesday of a Youngstown State baseball team that appeared to be looking for nothing more than getting home to play its first non-road games of the season. The Mountaineers scored nine runs in the first three innings, including six in the second, to take a 14-1 win. The easy victory moved WVU to 13-7 on the season, and dropped the Penguins to 1-18.
“This might be the kind of game that was boring for the fans and players to sit through, but I had the time of my life,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said.
Tevin Tucker, Darius Hill and Tyler Doanes had two hits each to pace a Mountaineer attack that piled up 12 in all on the brisk, yet sunny, afternoon. Tucker was 2-3 with a home run and a double, good for four RBI and three runs scored. Hill had a double and was 2-2 with two RBI, while Doanes had a triple, his team-best third of the year, to go along with two runs and three RBI.
WVU starter Nick Snyder turned in another very good performance on the mound, striking out four in four innings while facing 17 batters. He did give up a double among his four hits, but walked just one in earning the win to run his record to 3-1.
After that, it was pitching by committee for the Mountaineers, who ran out a different reliever in each of the final five frames. Gabe Kurtzhals and Madison Jeffery were nearly flawless in the fifth and sixth, with Jeffery’s hit batter the only blemish.
Zach Reid allowed YSU’s run in the seventh when he yielded two hits and a walk, but got a strikeout to strand a pair of Penguins. Tristen Hudson pitched the eight, giving up just a walk, and Phillip Dull, who was 1-2 at the plate after pinch-hitting for Gonzalez, tossed a perfect ninth.
“They all did great when they came in there,” Mazey said of the parade of pitchers, who combined to hold the Penguins to just six hits. “Relief pitching is something like a field goal kicker, confidence is key. You want to get guys out there and get them a clean inning and have confidence going in there. So next time they get out there, if it’s a 0-0 game, they are going to pitch with confidence. We have a lot of guys to choose from in the bullpen right now, so we are just trying to see who the hottest guys are. It is nice to get five or six different guys on the mound today.”
In all, it was a perfect setup for the team as it prepares to head for Baylor.
“This was as good as we could be heading into what will be a tough conference weekend,” summed up Mazey, whose Mountaineers open Big 12 action on Friday.
Things won’t be so easy in conference play, but with the word “confidence” on the lips of just about every player, Mazey has the team playing well at the first critical juncture of the season.
The staff was helped by yet another batting outburst.
After scoring one run in the first on an error, WVU put the game away with six runs in the second. The Penguins set the stage by walking three consecutive batters to start the inning, and Tucker took advantage with a double to score two. Doanes sacrifice fly added a third, and then Tucker manufactured the fourth by stealing third and racing home when the throw from catcher Dylan Swarmer sailed into left field.
Although that cleared the bases, the Mountaineers weren’t finished. Ivan Gonzalez walked, one of his two on the day, and Hill followed with a hit. Both came around to score on Kevin Brophy single, giving the Mountaineers six runs, tied for their best single-inning output of the year. Penguin pitcher Chad Coles was tagged with the loss, although he gave up just the single run in the first. Greg Dunham walked the three batters in the second and was relieved by Cade Negley, who allowed all of those to score plus five additional of his own. In all, the first four YSU pitchers left the game with season ERAs of 11 or higher.
West Virginia begins Big 12 play this weekend when it travels to Baylor for a three-game set beginning Friday at 7:35 p.m. ET. The Mountaineers’ established weekend rotation of Alek Manoah, Jackson Wolf and Kade Strowd will face a Bear squad that is off to a 13-5 start and ranked No. 26 in the Collegiate Baseball Poll. That record, though, has been built largely on the back of 10 wins against Quad IV opponents.
Tevin Tucker’s line drive home run to left was the first of his collegiate career. His four RBI were a career high.
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The Mountaineers improved to 12-3 when scoring first and 6-3 when scoring in the first inning . WVU scored a season-high 14 runs and has scored eight or more runs in seven of its last eight games.
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Phillip Dull had a nice double duty day, earning his first RBI while pitching a 1-2-3 ninth.