The Mountaineers opened their 2016 baseball season Friday morning against Charleston Southern University in beautiful and sunny Charleston, South Carolina. Friday morning provided the first real glimpse of spring in a beautiful day for baseball as the Mountaineers took the field. The 4-3 loss against the Buccaneers is the first game of the three game series between the two teams this weekend.
The Mountaineers and the Buccaneers both got off to a slow start with both teams going three up, three down in the first inning. The Mountaineers took an early lead in the second when first basemen Jackson Cramer crushed a home run over right field. Cramer had three at bats in Friday’s opener; one hit, one run, one RBI and a hit by pitch.
Third baseman Kyle Davis had an infield single in the top of the third, one of his five at bats for the day. Despite two subsequent walks, the Mountaineers ended up leaving the bases loaded to end the third inning.
The feel-good story of the day for the Bucs occurred in the bottom of the fourth inning when Charleston native Chris Singleton hit a two-run double to put the Buccaneers on top. Singleton’s mother was one of the nine people whose lives were lost in the church shooting at Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston during June of 2015.
In the Mountaineers’s fourth and fifth innings, the team left three more base runners stranded. The highlight of the fifth inning perhaps occurred when catcher Ray Guerrini ended the inning by throwing out a base runner attempting to steal second base.
Starting pitcher Chad Donato was relieved after one out in the sixth. Donato’s day ended with 5.1 innings pitched, giving up three hits and two runs, as well as five strike outs on the day. He was relieved by Conner Dotson, who pitched the remainder of the sixth and seventh innings before running into trouble in the eighth. In the eighth, Dotson gave up a home run to Nate Blanchard followed by Singleton striking again with a RBI single that turned out to be the difference in the game.
The Mountaineers put their rally caps on in the top of the ninth, down 4-1, in an attempt to pull out a victory. Catcher Ray Guerrini lead off with a triple to right field. Next up, center fielder KC Huth reached first on a throwing error, followed by being allowed second base on a runner interference call. Guerrini scored from third on that play, trimming the lead to 4-2. Following a fly out from Caleb Potter, pinch hitter Kyle Casserly reached first on an infield single, advancing Huth to third. Kyle Davis then hit into a fielder’s choice, allowing Huth to score and cut the lead to 4-3. With two outs and the tying run on first, right fielder Darius Hill came to the plate, but unfortunately struck out swinging ending the game.
The Mountaineers have a chance for redemption Saturday morning at 11:00 EST in the second of three games.