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West Virginia Wins Series vs. Kansas State

After splitting the first 2 games of the series, the Mountaineers won the rubber match on getaway day to complete the gauntlet of Big XII play.

Tyler Doanes
John Lowe/The Daily Athenaeum

The #20 West Virginia Mountaineers needed to have a successful weekend in Manhattan, Kansas - they did just that. After Alek Manoah had yet another dominant performance on Friday night, Kansas State recovered to win a tight game on Saturday. WVU needed to take Sunday’s game, and late game heroics propelled the Mountaineers to their 6th series win and a 13-11 Big XII record.

Friday, May 10th, 2019

#20 West Virginia Mountaineers: 6

Kansas State Wildcats: 0

Alek Manoah turned in another dazzling performance, throwing 8 shutout innings and leading the Mountaineers to a series-opening victory in Manhattan.

The Wildcats really had no shot in this one. Manoah was dodging bats and racked up 13 K’s on Friday night, en route to his 7th win and 121st strikeout of the season.

The Mountaineers gave Manoah a 2-0 lead in the top of the 1st after a leadoff HR by Tyler Doanes and a RBI groundout by Marques Inman.

They added 3 more runs in the 2nd as TJ Lake earned a RBI single, whom Doanes later scored on a RBI groundout to 2nd, and when Tevin Tucker scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-0 Mountaineers. WVU added another insurance run in the 4th on a RBI double by Brandon White, putting this one out of reach, and allowing WVU to coast to their 30th win of the season.

Saturday, May 13th, 2019

Kansas State Wildcats: 8

#20 West Virginia Mountaineers: 6

Kansas State put 5 runs on the board in the 1st inning, even after a leadoff HR by Tyler Doanes, and WVU couldn’t mount a large enough comeback as they fell 8-6 to even the series up at 1 game apiece.

Tyler Doanes hit his second home run in as many days, as he smacked a leadoff homer to left field, giving WVU the immediate momentum with a 1-0 lead.

However, the “Big Mo” didn’t stay on WVU’s side for long; K-State struck back with a vengeance in the bottom of the frame, plating 5 men and giving them a commanding 5-1 lead after just 6 outs of play.

The Mountaineers got a run back in each of the next two innings on a solo HR by Paul McIntosh and by a RBI walk by Doanes, but still trailed 5-3 after 3.

K-State then put 3 more runs on the board over the next few innings, increasing their lead to 8-3, which really put their proverbial feet on West Virginia’s neck.

The Mountaineers put together a valiant comeback in the 6th inning, scoring 3 times to make it a close game in the late innings, but the Wildcats bullpen was able to do just enough to stymie the surge and earn the win against the Top 25 opponent.

Jackson Wolf had a dreadful game for WVU. After giving up 5 runs in the 1st inning, he steadied himself a bit over the next few frames, but ultimately gave up 8 runs in just 4.2 innings of work, exploding his ERA to 4.90 and really putting a question mark over his head as we move into postseason play.

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

#20 West Virginia Mountaineers: 7

Kansas State Wildcats: 4

A great pitching performance by both starting pitchers kept this one close until West Virginia put together a 4-run 8th inning to take the game, and the series, 7-4.

Kade Strowd, who I and many others have criticized in recent weeks, turned in an impressive outing on Sunday vs. the Wildcats. He threw 6.2 innings, giving up 5 hits, 3 walks and 4 runs (3 earned), while striking out 5 in a no-decision. Although the appearance of 4 runs allowed doesn’t seem impressive, Strowd was dealing through 6 innings, allowing just 2 runs up until that point. It appears Coach Mazey may have left him in just 1 inning too long, as the Wildcats were able to gain 2 runs against him in the 7th and put a blemish on his otherwise nice outing.

We’ll pick this one up in the top of the 8th, with WVU trailing 4-3. K-State brought in RHP Mitch Zubradt, who had a sparkling 2.07 ERA on the season. That is, until West Virginia got their hands on him. The young righty got charged with 2 hits, 1 walk and ultimately, 3 earned runs which came via RBI’s by Ivan Gonzalez, TJ Lake, and Player of the Game, Tyler Doanes. That put WVU up 6-4, and once Brandon White poked a single through the right side to give the Mountaineers their 7th run, this one was all but over.

Sam Kessler entered in the bottom of the 8th and completed the difficult 2-inning save, lowering his ERA to 2.77 and giving him his 8th save of the season.

This series victory against Kansas State gives West Virginia their school-record tying 6th series win of the season. As Big XII play concludes for the Mountaineers, they finish with a 31-18 (13-11) record, which currently stands for T-3rd in the conference.

Despite Big XII play being over, the Mountaineers still have 4 regular season games left and it is of paramount importance that they make them count.

On Tuesday, WVU and Pitt will play each other at PNC Park at 6:00 PM. The Mountaineers defeated the Panthers 5-4 on April 3rd, and will look to sweep the season series.

Next weekend, WVU will host George Washington University in a very important series. The Colonels are 30-22 (11-13 Atlantic 10) in 2019 and pose a threat to the Mountaineers in their home finale. A sweep would do wonders to guaranteeing a bid to host a regional, but a series victory might also get them there. Come out to Monongalia County Ballpark next weekend and cheer on your Mounties for potentially the final time in 2019!