MORGANTOWN, W.Va.– The West Virginia University baseball team’s bats exploded for 17 runs and the pitching dominated in a 17-1 victory over Eastern Michigan on Tuesday night at Monongalia County Ballpark.
The Mountaineers (26-17) jumped out with four runs in each of the first two innings and never looked back, scoring at least three runs four times. Meanwhile, the WVU pitching staff held the Eagles (18-27) hitless into the seventh inning and allowed just three hits all night.
Sophomore designated hitter Braden Zarbnisky launched his first career home run, while sophomore catcher Ivan Gonzalez also homered to power an offense that saw 11 Mountaineers, and all but one starter, record at least one hit. Six had at least two hits, and six drove in two or more runs.
On the mound, freshman starter Sam Kessler junior reliever Shane Ennis and freshman reliever Riley Troutt held Eastern Michigan hitless for 6.1 innings.
“Pretty good effort tonight,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “That’s overstating the obvious, but that’s what we said. We’re talented enough, if the talent on our team brings the effort every game consistently, then we’re going to get good results. We can’t get caught up in the results, and that game couldn’t have gone any better, from the pitchers we put out there that really needed to pitch and have success. Shane Ennis hasn’t pitched in so long, Carter Camp hasn’t pitched in so long, Tanner Campbell hasn’t pitched in so long and (Sam) Kessler showed that he’s capable of starting. The guys coming off the bench just don’t come off the bench and just let the game kind of finish itself, they played well. That’s super encouraging and super hard to do for those guys, so I’m really proud of them.”
Kessler, making his first career start, pitched 2.0 innings, striking out three and not allowing a hit or a walk. Ennis followed with 3.0 innings, striking out a pair and walking two. Troutt pitched the sixth and seventh innings and allowed one hit, a single to left field, with a strikeout and no walks.
Ennis earned his first win of the season and second of his career. The Romney, West Virginia, native was making his third appearance of the year.
The Mountaineers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. The scoring barrage began with Gonzalez’s two-run home run, and followed with an RBI triple from sophomore right fielder Darius Hill and a sacrifice fly.
Gonzalez’s home run was his fourth of the season and the start of a three-hit, three-RBI night.
After Kessler stranded a pair of baserunners in the top of the second, West Virginia extended its lead to 8-0 with four runs in the bottom half of the inning. Gonzalez got the scoring started with an RBI single, and sophomore third baseman Cole Austin brought in two more with a two-RBI double. The fourth run came in on a groundout.
Austin had two hits in the contest and added three RBIs. The sophomore continues to lead the team with 56 hits.
Ennis retired the first three batters he faced in the third, and WVU was retired in order in the bottom half for the first time.
Eastern Michigan stranded another two runners in the fourth inning, and again West Virginia added another four runs in the bottom of the inning. With two outs and two on, junior left fielder Kyle Davis singled through the right side to bring home the first run. Zarbnisky then followed with his first career home run, a three-run shot to right field.
Davis was one of three Mountaineers with three hits on the night, while he also had three RBIs and two runs scored.
West Virginia added to its lead with a run in the fifth to make it 13-0. Freshman first baseman Kevin Brophy singled up the middle with two outs to bring home an unearned run. Brophy, who came off the bench in the contest, had a career-best three hits and two RBIs.
Another three runs scored in the sixth inning to stretch the lead to 16-0. All three runs again came with two outs, beginning with a two-RBI single by freshman catcher Chase Illig. Brophy then singled to right field to bring in the final run.
The Eagles got on the board with one run in the eighth inning. A walk was followed by a wild pitch and an RBI double. However, sophomore righty Tanner Campbell came in and got the next two outs of the inning to limit the damage.
WVU hosts No. 4 Texas Tech in the final Big 12 home series of the season this weekend. The series begins on Friday, May 5, at 6:30 p.m. ET. Saturday’s first pitch is set for 4 p.m., and will be broadcast live on FCS Central. Sunday’s contest commences at 1 p.m.
Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS
Press Release Credit: WVU Athletic Communications- Charlie Healy