The West Virginia Mountaineers dropped the opening game of a three-game series against the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Texas Tech leadoff hitter Easton Murrell reached on an error at third. Then, the Red Raiders started barreling the ball in the deepest part of the ballpark with Braxton Fulford tripling off the left-centerfield wall and Jace Yung with an RBI double to give the Red Raiders the early 2-0 advantage. West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey strolled out to the mound to check his ace Jackson Wolf. He locked in and got out of the inning.
“I was proud of Jackson – he went out there and competed pretty well,” said Mazey. “You know, we make an error to start the game and make him get four outs in the first inning against a good team, and you can’t do that… The pitches that they hit, for the most part, were pretty good pitches, and that’s why they’re ranked in the top 10 because they’re a pretty good offensive team.”
West Virginia threatened in the second after Texas Tech starting pitcher Patrick Monteverde walked the bases loaded, but the Mountaineers could not get the ball out of the outfield and bring home any runners.
The Red Raiders added a run in the fourth when Wolf walked Cal Conley before Cody Masters singled to right field, scoring Conley and two more runs in the fifth after Wolf walked leadoff hitter Easton Murrell before Braxton Fulford lifted a two-run bomb, putting the Red Raiders up 5-0.
Monteverde was working a no-hitter into the fifth, but Matt McCormick went opposite field with a hard ground ball through the gap to end the Mountaineer hitless streak but was still unable to plate a runner.
“You got to give credit to that kid who pitched tonight - he went out and threw three pitches for strikes – he had three walks in the game that were all in the same inning, and that’s really the only legitimate scoring chance we had for most of the game. “
The Red Raiders added insurance runs in the sixth and seventh inning, extending the lead 7-0.
West Virginia strung together consecutive hits together in the bottom of the ninth when Paul McIntosh delivered his second double of the evening. Then with two outs, Matt McCormick ripped a single back up the middle, putting runners at the corners, and Kevin Brophy poked a line drive down the left field line for an RBI single, avoiding the shutout. Braden Barry kept the inning alive, dropping a high fly ball into the hole over first base and hopped over the fence for a ground-rule double, plating another Mountaineer run.
The Mountaineers had the bases loaded after Alec Burns was hit by a pitch and the tying run was on deck when freshman Mikey Kluska approached the plate, but freshman Texas Tech reliever Josh Sanders ended the inning with Kluska singing on strike three as the Red Raiders held off a battling West Virginia squad 7-2.
West Virginia and Texas Tech meet in game two Saturday at 4:00 pm inside Monongalia County Ballpark.
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