As West Virginia starting pitcher Jackson Wolf loaded the bases in the eighth inning, he knew his team needed him. After losing 2 of 3 last weekend to Oklahoma State and sitting at fourth in the conference, West Virginia knew this was going to be a big series.
With West Virginia (11-13, 3-4 Big 12) ahead 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, head coach Randy Mazey stuck with his ace. Wolf had given up two singles, and hit a batter as he faced Baylor catcher, Andy Thomas. On the second pitch of the at bat, Thomas laced a single to right field, tying the game and ending Wolf’s magnificent start.
The West Virginia bats got going early. In the third inning, Tyler Doanes singled into left field and then stole second base. Up came the reliable freshman shortstop Mikey Kluska who hit a sharp line drive that hopped over the second baseman’s head to score West Virginia’s first run of the game.
Then in the fourth inning, after a leadoff single by Vince Ippoliti, Kevin Brophy smacked an opposite field home run to left field to put the Mountaineers up 3-0.
After getting an early lead, Wolf seemed to be on cruise control until he ran into trouble in the eighth. After the game was tied, West Virginia went to its bullpen. A season in which many pitchers have struggled for West Virginia, the Mountaineers looked to Jacob Watters to try and put an end to Baylor’s rally.
Watters struck out the first batter he faced to record the first out of the inning. Then on a 1-0 pitch, Kyle Nevin ripped a single into right field, to give Baylor (20-10, 2-5 Big 12) a 4-3 lead. That was only the beginning for Watters, as he then gave up a triple to Davion Downey to score two more and put the game out of reach.
Unlike the West Virginia bullpen, Baylor found success after their starter Tyler Thomas pitched 6.2 innings, giving up seven hits, three runs, and striking out five.
The Baylor bullpen faced seven Mountaineer hitters and they retired all seven of them in order. It started with Ryan Leckich (2-0) who picked up the win after he got West Virginia center fielder Victor Scott to ground out to end the seventh inning. Then in the eighth, Leckich plowed through the middle of the West Virginia lineup, striking out two batters in the process.
After being up 6-3 headed into the ninth, Baylor closer Luke Boyd came on and sealed the deal for the Bears. Boyd struck out the last two batters he faced and earned his sixth save of the year, with the Bears winning the game, 6-3.
It was another solid start for Wolf (3-3) who ended up with the loss after throwing the ball really well. Wolf finished the day giving up five runs, on six hits, and striking out seven through seven innings.
The Mountaineers will look to tie the series tomorrow, as they face Baylor in game two of the series. First pitch is set for 4:00 p.m.
Photo by Dale Sparks, WVU