The West Virginia University baseball team, was able to split its doubleheader with Kansas and pick up a series win in its first conference play action of the season.
In what looked like what was going to be a pitcher’s duel in game one, the Kansas offense was able to put up nine runs in a 9-2 victory.
In the first inning, junior Adam Tulloch (0-1) of West Virginia was able to strike out the side. In the bottom of the inning, after a leadoff double from Tyler Doanes, the Mountaineers were unable to plate Doanes, as he got caught trying to steal third.
Both Tulloch and starter Cole Larsen (4-1) of Kansas got settled in early in the game. Then in the fifth inning, the Mountaineers were able to load the bases with only one out. Sophomore Matt McCormick hit a sacrifice fly to center field, to give the Mountaineers a 1-0 lead, but the Mountaineers could not push another run across, stranding two runners on base.
In the top of the sixth, the Kansas offense answered right back. After Tulloch hit the first two batters to start the inning, Kansas first baseman Nolan Metcalf hit a single into left field, to tie the game at 1-1.
The Kansas offense would not stop there as Kansas shortstop Skyler Messinger would hit a double down the left field line, to put Kansas up 2-1. Tulloch was then able to get the second out of the inning, but then had to come out of the game after what looked like a lower half injury. Junior Zach Ottinger came into the game to relieve Tulloch, but gave up a single that scored two more runs, and put Kansas ahead 4-1.
Tulloch finished the day, pitching 5.2 innings, giving up four runs, on three hits, two walks, and striking out eight hitters, while throwing 94 pitches.
In the eighth inning, the Kansas offense kept adding on, highlighted by a Tavian Josenberger triple which scored two more runs for the Jayhawks.
The Mountaineer offense had trouble getting going all day, until the ninth inning, when Victor Scott plated Doanes, to cut the Kansas lead to 9-2.
Larsen got the win for the Jayhawks, as he finished his day giving up one run, on eight hits, striking out six, and throwing 123 pitches.
“The score wasn’t really indicative of how the guys played,” coach Steve Sabins said. “Things didn’t really go our way offensively. I thought we had Larson on the ropes several times.”
In the second game, it was a very different story for the Mountaineers as the offense put on a show to secure the series victory, winning 15-2 in seven innings.
The offense got rolling in the second inning. Paul McIntosh led off with a home run to put the Mountaineers ahead 1-0. The Mountaineers then were able to stay patient as Kansas starting pitcher Eli Davis (3-2) struggled to find the strike zone. Davis walked in three runs, and then got taken out after pitching 1.1 innings, striking out two, allowing two hits, six runs, and walking seven batters.
“The guys came out swinging the bat. [Kansas] gave us some opportunities early with some walks and we took advantage of that,” Sabins said.
The Mountaineer offense had another huge inning in the fourth. Vince Ippoliti hit a two run single to right field, and then scored on a Mcgwire Holbrook single. Austin Davis then hit a two run double to left field to score two more runs for the Mountaineers, putting them up 11-0.
Ippoliti led the Mountaineer offense as he had two hits, and drove in five runs, while also scoring a run. Ippoliti said his mindset is what was able to lead him to having a successful day at the plate.
Ippoliti said he tries to “just keep it as simple as possible and do [his] job.”
The Mountaineers pitching staff was able to dominate the Jayhawks in the second game. Ben Hampton got the start for West Virginia. He pitched three innings, giving up no runs, no hits, walking one, and striking out two. In the fourth inning, Carlson Reed (1-1) came in and was able to only give up two runs in three innings pitched, striking out three, and getting his first win of the year. In the seventh inning, sophomore Jacob Watters walked two, but struck out three in his one inning of work to seal the victory for the Mountaineers.
The Mountaineers are now 10-9 on the year and improve to 2-1 in conference play. The Mountaineers will travel to face No. 20 Oklahoma State in a three game series starting April 1 at 7:00 p.m.