The Mountaineers started their trip to Macon, Georgia on the right foot Friday night, shutting out the Mercer Bears 6-0 in game one of their three-game series.
West Virginia (9-4) handed the Bears (11-1) just their second loss of the season behind a strong pitching performance from lefty Jackson Wolf (3-1). Wolf pitched 6.1 scorless innings, allowing just four hits and striking out seven. In three of Wolf’s four starts this season the junior has allowed no runs and struck out at least seven.
The Mountaineers got on the board early against Mercer started Tanner Hall (3-1). Left fielder Braden Zarbnisky lead-off the game with a single and stole second and third base before being driven in on a groundout by second baseman Tyler Doanes. Zarbnisky leads WVU is batting (.481), hits (26) and stolen bases (12) so far this season.
West Virginia would score one more run in the top of the first on two fielding errors. The Mountaineers tacked on one run in the fifth on a double by right fielder Austin Davis that scored Zarbnisky, who had been hit by a pitch.
Meanwhile, Wolf was cruising through the Bears’ lineup. Wolf allowed a pair of singles in the third and a double in the fourth, but otherwise was clean throughout his entire outing. Wolf got a flyout to lead off the seven, and he was lifted for Zach Ottinger to end his 94-pitch outing. Ottinger allowed a single but closed out a scoreless seventh inning.
The WVU offense went back to work in the top off the eighth. Pinch hitter Ryan Archibald hit the first home run of his WVU career to lead off the inning. Then with two outs first baseman Matt McCormick doubled and was driven in on a single by centerfielder Victor Scott.
Ottinger pitched a clean bottom of the eighth and WVU would score one more run in the top of the ninth on a double steal to make the score 6-0. In his first work of the season, Haden Erbe pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth to end the game.
Game two between WVU and Mercer will start at 2 p.m. tomorrow. The pitching matchup will be sophomores Ryan Bergert (2-0) for WVU and Jackson Kelley (2-0) for the Bears.