On Saturday, West Virginia split the doubleheader, but still won their first true series of the year against Charlotte.
The Mountaineers (5-2) won the first game 9-2, and their comeback efforts fell just short in the ninth inning of game two. Nonetheless, West Virginia has won five of their first seven games, and completed their first series win on Saturday.
In game one, the West Virginia bats did not score a run in the first inning for the first time all season. Instead, it took the Mountaineers a little longer to get the bats going — with Austin Davis doubling in the first run of the day in the third inning. Victor Scott would score Davis on a sacrifice fly, putting West Virginia ahead 2-0.
Through the first four innings, West Virginia starter Ben Hampton allowed only one run on two hits. One of those two hits was a homerun to right field in the fourth inning, but other than that Hampton (2-0) was cruising through the first four innings.
In the fifth inning, Tevin Tucker walked and then stole second and third base. Tucker would then score on a groundball to first base off the bat of Davis, getting West Virginia’s two-run lead back intact.
In the sixth, the floodgates opened for West Virginia. The Mountaineers scored four runs in the inning, but they did not do it by hammering the ball.
The inning started with walks to two of the first three batters. Mikey Kluska would hit an infield single to load the bases, then West Virginia was able to keep the line moving. Scott would be thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice and then with two outs, the Mountaineers scored on a wild pitch, then scored on an RBI walk by Tucker. Davis would then single into right field, scoring two more runs, pushing the score to 7-1.
In the bottom of the inning, Hampton would give up a lead-off double, but would follow it up by getting two outs. Head coach Randy Mazey would turn to his bullpen with two outs in the inning, with Zach Ottinger getting a strikeout to end the inning.
Hampton’s day ended with him throwing 5.2 innings of three-hit ball, and striking out seven 49ers.
West Virginia would add two runs in the ninth, and would use a combined four pitchers in the first game.
In game two, the Mountaineers were dealt a big blow in the sixth inning, and ultimately could not rally to overcome the deficit.
West Virginia struck first, scoring one run in the top of the first inning. The Mountaineers compiled back-to-back-to-back hits in the first inning, with JJ Wetherholt scoring, to put Wset Virginia ahead 1-0. Charlotte would respond with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning, before both pitchers began to settle in.
Davis led off the third inning with a double and would then score on a sac-fly from Scott, giving West Virginia a 2-1 advantage.
In the sixth inning, after a leadoff walk, Chase Smith would come in the game to pitch for West Virginia. Smith (0-1) would give up a single and Charlotte would tie the game on a bunt. Smith would give up a single to load the bases, but then would get a strikeout for the second out. Charlotte would get the best of Smith though, tagging him for back-to-back singles to plate two more runs, and lead 5-2.
The Mountaineers would get one back in the seventh inning, with Ben Abernathy scoring after a wild pitch and a groundout. West Virginia would scratch one more across in the eighth, with McGwire Holbrook doubling to score Scott, putting the Mountaineers down 5-4.
In the ninth inning, West Virginia got their first two runners on base, but Tucker’s bunt was able to get the lead runner Abernathy out at third base. Kluska would fly out, putting the tying run 90 feet away, but Wetherholt would fly out to end the ballgame.
West Virginia will be back in action in their home opener against Canisius at 3 p.m. at Monongalia County Ballpark.
Photo by WVUBaseball Twitter