Mountaineers Comeback Falls Short, Drop Season Opener to Georgia Southern 4-3
The West Virginia Mountaineers lost their first game of the season 4-3 against the Southern Georgia Eagles.
Ace pitcher Ben Hampton gave up one hit and one run across six innings of work on the road, but it was all for naught after a late bullpen collapse.
Star infielder JJ Wetherholt doubled with one out in the first, but his teammates couldn’t bring him home.
Hampton, meanwhile, worked around a leadoff walk with a strikeout and a groundout double play.
He wasn’t able to make it out of the second unscathed, though. A throwing error by shortstop Tevin Tucker allowed the leadoff runner to reach. Hampton walked the next batter before a sacrifice bunt moved the runners over and an error by catcher Dayne Leonard allowed the Eagles to take a 1-0 lead. Hampton escaped the inning by inducing a strikeout and a groundout bunt, on the way to recording 11 consecutive outs.
The Mountaineers nearly responded in the top of the third when outfielder Braden Barry roped a triple into the left-center gap. Eagles’ hurler Ty Fisher hit Wetherholt with a pitch, then rebounded with a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.
West Virginia managed to break through with two outs in the fourth. Outfielder London Wallace plated the first run of West Virginia’s season with a triple, then stole home to take the lead.
Wetherholt wore another pitch to lead off the fifth, then a Leonard double put two on with two out. First baseman Grant Hussey stretched the lead to 3-1 with a sacrifice fly.
Hampton had two runners in scoring position with no outs in the sixth, but rebounded to strike out the side.
Runners on first and third, nobody out?
No problem for @benhampton55 as he strikes out 3️⃣ straight to give him eight for the night!#HailWV pic.twitter.com/MxqY3Ym525
— WVU Baseball (@WVUBaseball) February 18, 2023
Sophomore righty Aidan Major entered in the seventh after Hampton surrendered a leadoff walk.
Major walked the bases loaded, recording two outs, but also gave up an RBI bunt single.
Senior left-hander Jake Carr took the ball and promptly lost the lead, allowing a two-run single to put Georgia Southern ahead 4-3.
Wetherholt singled with one out in the ninth against Eagles’ closer Jaylen Paden, then Leonard drew a walk to put the go-ahead run on. Paden then worked a strikeout and a pop up to end the inning and the game.
The series continues at 2pm on Saturday, February 18.