CONWAY, S.C. (Feb. 26, 2021) – The No. 22/23/27-ranked West Virginia University baseball team opened action at the CCU Baseball Tournament with a 13-3 win over Kennesaw State on Friday morning at Springs Brooks Stadium in Conway, South Carolina.
The Mountaineers hit three home runs and received a strong outing by senior left-handed pitcher Jackson Wolf in the victory. In all, WVU registered 13 runs on 13 hits with no errors, while the Owls tallied three runs on seven hits with four errors.
“This is the kind of team that we know we have,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “We pitched really well, we played great defense, we ran, and we showed power. Every side of the baseball was really good today.”
Wolf needed just six pitches to get through the top of the first, before the Mountaineers (3-2) quickly gave him a lead in the bottom half. Junior outfielder Austin Davis led off by reaching on a Kennesaw State (3-2) fielding error and went on to steal second and third. Then, redshirt junior catcher/outfielder Vince Ippoliti brought Davis home with an RBI groundout to make it 1-0.
WVU added to its lead in the second after freshman infielder Mikey Kluska got aboard with a sharp, line drive up the middle. The White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, native advanced to third when freshman infielder Nathan Blasick slashed a base hit, before scoring thanks to a failed pickoff by the Owl pitcher, allowing West Virginia to double its advantage.
From there, the Mountaineers put up four runs in the third inning en route to breaking the game open. Sophomore catcher/infielder Matt McCormick led off the inning with a big blast to right field, marking his third home run of the season. Then, WVU added two more runs, coming from fifth-year senior infielder Kevin Brophy’s RBI groundout and Kluska’s sacrifice fly.
West Virginia led, 6-0, after three innings.
In the fifth, it was sophomore outfielder Victor Scott’s turn to leave the yard, as the Powder Springs, Georgia, native smacked a two-run homer to left center, giving WVU an 8-0 lead. West Virginia added a ninth run in the sixth when McCormick tallied another RBI on a groundout, scoring freshman infielder/outfielder Ben Abernathy.
Still, the Mountaineers weren’t done. Brophy hit a solo homer to lead off the bottom of the seventh, making it 10-0. After KSU scored a pair in the eighth, WVU responded with three more in the bottom half of the frame. Freshman outfielder Braden Barry’s hard-hit liner up the middle scored Davis, before Brophy added on with a two-out, two-run double.
The Randolph, New Jersey, native finished 2-for-5 with four RBIs in the win.
Scott led the way with three hits at the plate for WVU, scoring three runs and driving in two more. In all, nine players scored a run and six registered at least one RBI.
On the mound, Wolf tossed seven, shutout innings, allowing four hits, while striking out four, earning his first win of the season. Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Daniel Ouderkirk and sophomore righty Tim Wynia each logged an inning out of the bullpen.
“Once (Wolf) gets confidence, he gets a lot better,” Mazey said of Wolf. “I think getting out of that first inning on only six pitches gave him a lot of confidence, and he just kept getting better as the game went on.”
With the win, the Mountaineers improved to 2-1 all-time against Kennesaw State. The two squads have met in each of the last three seasons.
Next up, WVU continues play at the CCU Baseball Tournament on Saturday afternoon against event host Coastal Carolina. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. ET, at Springs Brooks Stadium.
Press Release Credit: WVU Athletics Communications
Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS