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Pitching staff struggles, comeback amounts to nothing in Backyard Brawl loss

Despite their comeback efforts, the WVU baseball team could not secure the win against Pitt Wednesday night at Charles L. Cost Field in Pittsburgh.

The Mountaineers struggled on the mound, totaling seven pitching changes throughout the game. Freshman Chris Sleeper eThe Mountaineers used eight pitchers on the night, but they all struggled to keep the Panther offense off the board, resulting in a 9-6 loss for West Virginia.

“When you score six runs and get nine or 10 hits, you should win the game,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “But we walked 10 guys. If you don’t throw strikes, then you can’t pitch, no matter how old you are. If you don’t throw the ball over the plate, then you aren’t going to win.”

Pitt wasted no time in getting on the board following a scoreless first inning from the top of the West Virginia lineup. The Panthers scored four six runs on four hits, taking an early lead after just one inning of play.

In the second inning, the Mountaineers got their first two runners on, but were unable to bring either home, stranding a runner on third base for the second consecutive inning.

Chris Sleeper came in for a struggling Ben Abernathy in the first inning and then struck out the final two batters for Pitt to close the second inning, with the Panthers still leading 6-0.

The Mountaineers were due for action at the plate heading into the third inning. JJ Wetherholt started a small rally for WVU, hitting down the line and advancing to third on a wild pitch with Victor Scott at the plate.

The start of a comeback was led by Grant Hussey as his a single sent Wetherholt home and advanced Scott to third. Scott eventually scored on an RBI from Nathan Blasick, putting the Mountaineers down by 6-2.

The Mountaineers were not done, as in the fourth inning, they were able to plate four runs, tying the game a 6-6. Mikey Kluska and Austin Davis were on base as the two-out rally was again led by Wetherholt with a single that sent Kluska scoring.

Scott then stepped to the plate with two runners on and connected with a pitch sending it over the right field fence, tying the game 6-6 with a three-run homer.

Unfortunately, the Mountaineers’ comeback would end here, as the Panthers responded with one run, then held the Mountaineers scoreless for the rest of the game.

Noah Short pitched the fifth inning for WVU, successfully holding the Panthers to no runs. Beau Lowery then came in for the sixth, giving up a two-run homerun and was then replaced by Chase Smith, who eventually got the Mountaineers out of the inning.

The score remained 9-6, with Pitt in the lead until the last out. The Mountaineers could not connect at the plate, having no hits for the remainder of the game.

Carlson Reed ended the game on the mound for the Mountaineers in the bottom of the eighth, but the Mountaineers went three up, three down in their last at-bats.

This game marks the ninth loss for the Mountaineers this season. 

The WVU baseball team looks to get back on their feet for the start of conference play this Friday against TCU. The first pitch is set for 7:00 p.m. at Lupton Baseball Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.

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