MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–A game that started as a pitcher’s duel turned ugly for the West Virginia University baseball team in the latter innings as Furman defeated the Mountaineers 7-3 in the series-opener on Friday evening at Monongalia County Ballpark.
Junior Chad Donato (1-3) was cruising during the first five innings before things got shaky in the sixth. Matt Towarnicky’s one-out base hit into right field started the six hit, five run barrage. Carter Grote doubled and Sims Griffith was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Cameron Whitehead’s RBI single gave the Paladins a 1-0 lead. Brandon Elmy and Landon Kay tacked on two more runs with RBI singles before Sky Overton drove in two with a single to center to give Furman a 5-0 advantage.
“I really, really believed that one run was going to win it,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said. “I thought after five innings of this game, it was going to be 1-0 because their guy was so good and Chad was so good and all of a sudden, somehow, against every law of averages that exists, they managed to get five hits in a row.”
Early on Donato was dominant on the mound. He had five strikeouts in the first two frames and tied a career-high of 10 when he fanned Kay to start the fifth inning.
The Paladins’ Will Gaddis (5-2) was just as efficient. He held the Mountaineers to three hits through five innings.
WVU got on the board in the bottom of the sixth to pull within three. Sophomore second baseman Kyle Davis and senior center fielder KC Huth singled. Freshman Darius Hill knocked in Davis with a base hit to center. Freshman Marques Inman reached on a fielder’s choice to score Huth.
The Paladins added two runs in the eighth on two doubles and a single to take a 7-2 lead.
The Mountaineers made a rally attempt in the ninth but fell short. Hill led off with a single and junior Jackson Cramer doubled. Hill scored on junior catcher Ray Guerrini’s sacrifice Fly.
Donato had a career-high 13 strikeouts in 7.2 innings for WVU.
Cramer’s ninth-inning double extended his Big 12-leading on-base streak to 48 straight games.
The series continues on Saturday at 4 p.m. (ET).