MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–The West Virginia University baseball team has seen many highs and lows this season and on Tuesday night mistakes proved costly as Pitt defeated the Mountaineers 4-1 at Monongalia County Ballpark.
WVU (17-14) struggled against the Panthers’ starter Sam Mersing. The junior right-hander held the Mountaineers to three hits over six innings while striking out seven.
“When that guy found his groove he got pretty good, and we really didn’t have an answer,” WVU head coach Mazey said. “We had guys swinging over top of their fastballs all night. You can win anywhere with a really good fastball. One guy sunk it and one guy commanded it and that’s a good lesson for our guys, who walked nine and hit two.”
Freshman starter Michael Grove tossed five innings of scoreless baseball. The right-hander gave up five hits and struck out four.
Grove’s second straight strong outing gave the Mountaineers a chance to defeat Pitt (15-13).
“He made some really good pitches when guys got on base,” said Mazey of Grove. “For a young guy to go out there and throw the most important pitches and the best pitches of the game from the stretch, with guys on second base and third base, I think he grew up a lot tonight. He’ll clean up his walks. He’s going to be a really good pitcher for us in the future. That was encouraging. When he came out of the game, it was 0-0, so how can you ask for anything more than that, five shutout innings?”
Sophomore Conner Dotson suffered the loss. The righty gave up four runs on one hit in 1.1 innings. He walked two and struck out one.
Dotson struggled with his control in the top of the seventh, allowing the Panthers to put up a four spot.
After Dotson recorded the first out, he hit two straight batters. The Mountaineers botched a pickoff attempt, moving the runners up 90 feet. WVU intentionally walked Charles Leblanc to load the bases.
Dotson walked junior Nick Yarnall giving Pitt a 1-0 lead. The damage was far from over as senior Alex Kowalczyk sliced a two-run single up the middle. Freshman David Yanni tacked on another run with a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Yarnall.
WVU fought back in the ninth, loading the bases with two outs. The Panthers walked junior pinch hitter Shaun Wood and junior catcher Ray Guerrini reached on an error. Braden Zarbnisky walked to load the bases, forcing Pitt to go to its closer Yaya Chentouf.
Freshman designated hitter Ivan Vera’s base hit scored Wood, cutting the deficit to 4-1.
Freshman right fielder Darius Hill had a chance to win the game but he flied out to right to end the game.
The Mountaineers return to action for a three-game set against Kansas State on Friday.