Playing in U.S. Bank Stadium, the home of the Minnesota Vikings, the Mountaineers won on Friday night in come-from-behind fashion but failed to produce much offense on Saturday or Sunday.
Friday night against Minnesota, the Golden Gophers staked an early lead when the #3 hitter homered to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. In the 4th inning, Minnesota added another run with a single to take a 2-0 lead. West Virginia would be held hitless through the first four innings of the game before tying the game at 2 in the fifth inning. JJ Wetherholt singled and McGwire Holbrook homered to centerfield to make it a 2-2 game.
Minnesota would take the lead in the sixth inning when Bertrand used an inside the park homerun to take a 3-2 lead.
A little bit of smallball and a throwing error gave Minnesota 4-2 lead but West Virginia would not go away. Austin Davis would single and take second on the throwing error, then advance to third as JJ Wetherholt grounded out. Victor Scott singled and would later score on a Blasick single.
Kaa Dee Dowell would single in the ninth inning, bringing in JJ Wetherholt for the winning run. Starter Carlson Reed went 4.1 innings, striking out 3 and giving up 2 earned runs. The Mountaineers used seven pitchers in the game. Jacob Watters earned his first save of the season in a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The Mountaineers stole eight bases in the game. The top 4 hitters (Austin Davis, JJ Wetherholt, Victor Scott and McGwire Holbrook combined to go 8-17 on the day at the plate.
As exciting as Friday night’s come-from-behind win was, the Mountaineers’ bat were cold on Saturday. West Virginia collected one hit through the first 8 innings as Illinois starter Gowens went 5 innings with 8 strikeouts and 2 walks. The Illinois bullpen went 4 innings with no earned runs, despite giving up two runs in the ninth inning. On the day, Illinois struck out 13 Mountaineers and only walked 4, limiting the Mountaineers chances to take extra bases.
Mountaineer starter Ben Hampton went 6 innings with 9 strikeouts and 1 walked and only allowed 2 earned runs. Michael Kilker had an up and down inning. He struck out two batters but hit a batter, who advanced on a throwing error and then later scored on a double. Tyler Strechay struggled in the 8th inning, allowing 3 hits, 2 runs in his one inning of work.
In the ninth inning, the Mountaineers threatened, loading the bases with one out and Dayne Leornard was able to plate two runs when the third basemen missed a ball. It was the loan time the Mountaineers threatened in the game.
Sunday’s finale saw the Mountaineers come out early and take a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Grant Hussey scored on a single to right field. However, the Michigan State Spartans would respond with a 3-run fourth inning and piled on runs, scoring in the 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th inning to stretch the lead from 3-1 to 3-9 by the time the game was over.
The Mountaineers managed only 7 hits on Sunday while the pitching staff gave up 15. There were a lot of grounded out to shortstop/second basemen on the day.
News and Notes
- McGwire Holbrook is riding a 7-game hit streak. During this time he’s collected 12 hits in those 7 games and is slashing .600/.652/1.000/1.652 with a double and 2 HRs. He is currently hitting .519 on the season.
- Freshman JJ Wetherholt struggled on Saturday and Sunday but is still hitting .372 on the young season and continues to be a sparkplug. Every game he’s collected a hit, he’s finished with multiple hits. Saturday’s contest was the first time he failed to reach base all season.
- Austin Davis snapped a 5-game hitting streak with an 0-fer on Saturday but started a new one on Sunday. He’s hitting .260 on the season and now is 7-for-7 in stolen bases.
- Victor Scott snapped a 10-game hitting streak with an 0-for-3 day against Illinois but is still hitting .368 on the season. He is 8/9 in stolen bases.
- West Virginia is now 37/44 in stolen bases on the season. Opponents have only stolen 7 bases.