MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Senior left-hander Ross Vance and back-to-back home runs led the West Virginia University baseball team to a 4-3 victory over No. 16 Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon at Monongalia County Ballpark.
The Mountaineers (14-10, 4-3 Big 12) won the series over the Cowboys (18-9, 3-2) after a dramatic 5-4 walk-off victory in Friday night’s series opener and Vance’s 7.1 innings of four-hit, three-run ball to earn the win on Saturday.
As Vance improved to 4-1 on the season, he was backed up by back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning by senior center fielder KC Huth and freshman right fielder Darius Hill. Hill had two RBIs on the day. Junior first baseman Jackson Cramer, who hit two home runs yesterday, including the walk-off winner in the 10th inning, added three hits and an RBI.
“We out-hit them 11-6, and it was really good to see Vance back on track, because his last three outings haven’t been that great,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “To have him doing that, that will really help our team down the stretch here. I think our guys realize that we have a pretty good club now, and if we get starting pitching like we’ve had the last two games, then we have a chance to beat anybody.”
Saturday’s weather featured strong winds whipping towards left field and temperatures in the low 50s. Advantage Mountaineers, as both Huth’s and Hill’s homers landed beyond the left field fence.
“We always say that, we’ve said it since the first day I got here,” Mazey said of the weather being an advantage. “Any time there are adverse weather conditions, ‘advantage Mountaineers.’ Our guys take pride in that.”
WVU jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Huth walked with one out and stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by the OSU catcher. Huth scored on Hill’s groundout. It was the 16th time this season the Mountaineers scored first and the seventh time they scored in the first inning.
OSU answered right back though with a run in the top of the second, also with an RBI groundout, to tie the game at 1-1.
After Vance retired the Cowboys in order in the top of the third, the Mountaineers struck again. With one out and two runners on, Cramer singled up the middle to score sophomore third baseman Kyle Davis.
Vance followed with a 1-2-3 fourth and sixth inning before getting a double play to retire OSU in the seventh. That’s when West Virginia added some valuable insurance runs.
With one out, Huth gave WVU a 3-1 lead with a monster home run down the left field line. The ball easily cleared the wall, 325 feet from home plate, and landed near the road beyond the outer fence of Monongalia County Ballpark.
Two pitches later, Hill made it 4-1 with his second career home run, with a shot that landed in OSU’s left field bullpen in.
In the sixth inning, junior catcher Ray Guerrini and Mazey were ejected. Freshman designated hitter Ivan Vera, the backup catcher, replaced Guerrini at catcher, which put Vance in the batting order. With two outs in the seventh inning, Vance made his first career plate appearance and drew a five-pitch walk, but did not score.
In the eighth inning, Vance gave up a single and a double to end his night. Sophomore righty Conner Dotson came in and allowed both of Vance’s runs to score before a flyout ended the inning.
Dotson gave up a single in the ninth, and the runner advanced to third on a wild pitch and a throwing error by Vera. Dotson got a strikeout and a lineout to end the game though to nail down his first save of the season.
The series concludes on Sunday, April 3 at 1 p.m. As part of the first Kids’ Day of the year, fans can get autographs from the Mountaineers and run the bases after the game.