Mountaineers Defeat Xavier 7-2 Behind Blaine Traxel’s Fourth Complete Game
The West Virginia Mountaineers defeated the Xavier Musketeers 7-2 on Saturday, coasting to victory with a huge eighth inning.
Starter Blaine Traxel pitched his fourth complete game of the season, punching out seven and allowing a pair of solo homers on 108 pitches.
Second baseman JJ Wetherholt singled to start the first. He stole second, then moved to third on a sacrifice fly by center fielder Braden Barry. Catcher Dayne Leonard smoked a double off the wall in left-center to take a 1-0 lead.
Xavier first baseman Matt McCormick singled to right in the second inning. The hit could’ve gone for extra bases had it not bounced right to Caleb McNeely. Right fielder Carter Hendrickson doubled down the left field line and Mountaineers’ left fielder Landon Wallace bobbled the exchange, giving McCormick an opportunity to try for home. Wallace recovered in time, sparking a 7-6-2 relay to nail McCormick at the plate. Wetherholt made a sensational diving catch to end the inning.
Wetherholt and Barry singled and walked to begin the third. They moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Leonard, but the Mountaineers couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity.
Xavier tied it in the fourth with a solo homer by designated hitter Tyler DeMartino.
Third baseman Ellis Garcia reestablished the lead on the first pitch of the bottom of the inning, homering to left field. Shortstop Tevin Tucker tripled to center field. The ball kicked around on the warning track, giving him a chance to try for an inside-the-park home run, but he was thrown out at the plate.
The Musketeers tied the game 2-2 in the seventh on another solo shot, this one by center fielder Garrett Schultz.
Wetherholt hit a two-out double in the bottom of the inning that was half an inch from going over the fence, chasing starter Brant Alazaus from the game. Barry singled through the middle to score him and make it 3-2.
🗣️THE BEST HITTER IN THE BIG 12#HailWV | @jj_wetherholt pic.twitter.com/PVjT59Hm3Y
— WVU Baseball (@WVUBaseball) March 25, 2023
Wallace and Tucker singled and walked with two outs in the eighth. Wetherholt didn’t miss his opportunity this time, smashing a pitch the opposite way for a three-run blast. Barry went deep on the next pitch as the Mountaineers established a 7-2 lead.
Traxel worked a five pitch ninth to finish the game.
West Virginia moves to 18-5 on the season. They’ll finish the series starting at 1pm Sunday, with starter Grant Siegel on the mound.