Earlier in the week, with the threat of snow and rain on Saturday, West Virginia and Ohio State opted for a double-header on Friday and a rubber game on Sunday. On a beautiful Friday afternoon, the Ohio State Buckeyes came to Morgantown and split a double-header with the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Game one did not go well for the Mountaineers. Friday night starter Carlson Reed struggled again, failing to make it out of the third inning. Reed has thrown 13.1 innings in four starts this year, failing to go more than 4-1/3 innings. He has allowed 9 earned runs in those 13 innings while only striking out 13 batters.
Against Ohio State, Reed struggled with command, throwing 49 pitches, but often missing in the middle of the zone. He allowed 6 hits and a walk. Ohio State would start the scoring in the second inning when they scored three runs, though two of the runs were unearned as the Mountaineers committed two errors.
Ohio State would add another run in the third inning to make the score 4-0 early in the ball game. In the bottom of the fourth inning, West Virginia would strike has McGwire Holbrook walked and then stole second base. He would advance to third on a sacrifice fly by Dayne Leonard and come home to score as Mikey Kluska tripled.
Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, Ohio State would not go away. The Buckeyes would score 3 runs in the top of the 5th to push the score to 7-1. Randy Mazey’s crew demonstrated some resolve as they fought back and Dayne Leonard blasted a 3-run homerun in the bottom of the 6th to make it 7-4 and it looked like the Mountaineers might claw their way back into the game.
After the bomb by Leonard, the Mountaineers continued to threaten as Kluska walked and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Back to back batters were hit by Ohio State pitchers to load the bases before freshman JJ Wetherholt struck out to end the threat. This would be as close as the Mountaineers would get in the game. The following inning, Ohio State would homer to left field to push the score to 9-4 and effectively end any Mountaineer rally.
On the day, the Mountaineers only collected 6 hits, limiting their ability to effect the Buckeyes on the basepaths. the Mountaineers stole three bases on the day, including two by freshman JJ Wetherholt.
Game two proved to be a tale of two “halves” if you would. For the first 5 frames of the game, the Mountaineers and Buckeyes battled to a 0-0 tie. Ohio State collected singles in the first, second, fourth and fifth innings but couldn’t string together consecutive hits and stranded runners each inning. West Virginia’s bats remained quiet, collecting one hit through the first five innings - a Grant Hussey single - before breaking through in the sixth inning.
Austin Davis would single and then advance to second on a wild throw on a pickoff attempt. Davis’ distraction gave JJ Wetherholt a chance to jump on a pitch for a 2-run homer to start the scoring.
Victor Scott would continue the action as he singled and then promptly stole second. Then he stole third. Dancing off third the pitcher threw wild and Victor Scott scored without McGwire Holbrook needing to swing. Single. Stolen Base. Stolen Base. Wild Pitch. Run scored.
In the top of the 7th, Ohio State would tie the game at 3 with a 2-run double and then a error by Kluska that allowed a third run to score.
The Mountaineers would retake the lead in the bottom of the 7th. Tyler Cox and Dayne Leonard would get on base and a wild pitch put the runners and 2nd and 3rd. West Virginia got tricky, trying a hit and run with runners in scoring position and Tyler Cox was nailed at the plate. Tevin Tucker would single scoring Leonard to give the Mountaineers a 4-3 lead.
Ohio State would not go away, just like in game one and retook the lead 5-4 on a 2-run double. In the top of the 9th, it looked like Ohio State had tacked on a much needed insurance run when a wild pitch scored a runner to push the lead to 6-4. Yet, here came the Mountaineers.
Grant Hussey walked. Tyler Cox grounded into a fielder’s choice but was safe at first. A balk advanced Cox to second. Dayne Leonard singled to put runners at first and third. Evan Smith came in to pinch run for Leonard. A strikeout put the Mountaineers down to their final out. Then Ohio State got lazy and allowed Smith to take second without a throw and this proved costly as Nathan Blasick came through with a 2-run single to tie the game at 6. Ben Abernathy pinch ran for Blasick and advanced to second on a balk. He then stole third and Austin Davis ended the game with a single up the middle to give the Mountaineers the win 7-6.
Starter Ben Hampton went 6 innings, striking out 5 and allowing only 2 runs. Four relievers (Smith, Watters, Braighwaite, Lowery) combined for 3 innings of work, striking out 4 and allowing only 4 hits to complete the day. The Mountaineers stole 6 bases on the day.