OKLAHOMA CITY–Behind stellar pitching and an offensive explosion in the first inning, the fourth-seeded West Virginia University baseball team toppled No.5 Baylor 11-1 on Wednesday morning in the first game of the 2017 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship.
Isaiah Kearns (5-0) pitched an eight-inning gem for the Mountaineers (33-22). The freshman allowed just one run on three hits while striking out six.
“You know we went for a period here with Kearns where he wasn’t feeling good,” WVU head coach said. “He had a pulled muscle and missed a couple starts. He had to rest. He had to miss some time and came back not only healthy but I think that rest really helped him. Sometimes you don’t know what’s going through Kearns’ mind over here. After his last game against Pitt he told Coach Matlock that he, Isaiah, can pitch up and down. That’s not anything…that’s west coast pitching up in the zone. We don’t do much of that. Kearns took that upon himself to command the zone up and down instead of side to side.”
Jimmy Galusky snapped out of a slump at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two RBI. Kyle Gray had two hits and drove in three runs.
Catcher Shea Langeliers had four assists for the Bears (34-19). He threw out three base runners trying to steal second and picked Ivan Gonzalez off first in the opening frame.
The Mountaineers opened the game with a seven run first inning. Kyle Gray began the inning with a base hit that trickled up the middle.
After initializing the hit and run, Gonzalez’s single through the right side moved Gray to third and Darius Hill’s fly ball to right field gave WVU a 1-0 lead.
Three consecutive singles pushed the Mountaineers lead to 4-0. With the bases loaded, Gray tripled down the right field line and gave WVU a 7-0 edge.
In the third, Galusky’s single to center plated Kyle Davis, extending the lead to eight. And in the fourth, Cole Austin singed home Gonzalez to make it a 9-0 game.
Baylor finally got on the board in the seventh. Richard Cunningham led off the frame with a double to right center and scored on Kameron Esthay’s groundout.
However the Mountaineers answered in the eighth with two runs to end the game.
WVU is currently 7-6 all-time in the Big 12 Championship and 1-1 against the Bears.
The Mountaineers will face the winner of No. 1 Texas Tech and No. 8 Oklahoma State on Thursday at 5 p.m. (ET).
Cover Photo Credit: Jeff Ruff, BGS