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Series Recap: WVU drops two of three against No. 7 TTU

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It’s not conventional to halt a four-game losing streak and get your first in-conference win by shutting out the No. 7 team in the country, but that’s what West Virginia (10-14, 1-5) did Thursday.The nationally ranked team – Texas Tech (23-6, 3-3) – responded with a strong pitching performance in the middle game, claiming a three-run win while allowing just three hits.WVU’s offense scored all of its runs in one inning Saturday, while defensive miscues didn’t help a struggling bullpen in an 8-5 loss in the series finale.

The Mountaineers earned a 1-0 shutout win over the Red Raiders in the series opener despite getting just three innings out of their starting pitcher. Jackson Wolf proved big in relief, throwing four innings while allowing just two hits and striking out three.For his effort, Wolf earned his first career win. Romney, WV-native Shane Ennis pitched the next two frames to pick up his first-ever save.WVU plated the only run of the game in the sixth inning. Darius Hill, who had one of West Virginia’s only three hits, singled past the dive of TTU second baseman Gabe Hold to drive in Ivan Gonzalez.Wolf entered the game in the fourth with two runners on, walked the bases loaded, but escaped the jam.“It’s great to get a win over such a good team,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said. “We hadn’t been pitching great, and they’re leading the league in hitting by a long way, so the matchup wasn’t all that great. Our guys just went out there and threw enough strikes, kept them off balance and threw up a zero at a time when we really needed it.”Texas Tech, the only team in the Big 12 to have hit more home runs than the Mountaineers this season, flexed its muscle Friday.The Red Raiders blasted two long balls in the first four innings against WVU starter Alek Manoah to take a 3-0 lead despite a stiff, inward-blowing wind.Senior BJ Myers relieved Manoah, who started but couldn’t record an out in the fifth.A sacrifice fly closed the book on the WVU starter at four runs on six hits, three walks, and three strikeouts in four-plus innings of work.In the meantime, Texas Tech’s Caleb Kilian – making just his second career start – was setting down practically every batter he faced. Only three runners reached through the first five innings against him, and he didn’t give up a hit until Darius Hill’s fly ball down the left-field line barely stayed fair, dropping in for a double.Hill was singled in by Marques Inman to put the Mountaineers on the board, though they trailed 4-1.Inman doubled to lead off the ninth, but he was stranded on base, with the Mountaineers losing the middle game by that score. Inman was the only WVU player with a multi-hit day.Kilian pitched six strong innings, allowing the lone run on just two hits.“Took me a while to get my curveball,” Kilian told the FS1 broadcast crew. “It seems like everyone is kind of stepping up.”A three-run top of the fifth inning off of Texas Tech starter John McMillon gave WVU the lead Saturday afternoon.Trailing by one, Andrew Zitel tied the game with an RBI-double to left. He scored one hitter later on a single off the bat of Chase Illig.Illig then scored on a groundout that gave the Mountaineers a 3-1 advantage. WVU wouldn’t score after that. West Virginia starting pitcher Kade Strowd only lasted four innings on the mound before giving way to Ennis with a lead.Ennis struck out two of the first three batters he faced in the fifth but gave up extra-base hits to two of the first three he faced the following inning, including a two-run homer to Gabe Little that tied the game at three runs apiece.Sam Kessler then took over for Ennis, with the go-ahead and insurance run coming in with him on the mound. The four runs against Ennis’ stat line, one of which scored on a throwing error by Gonzalez, gave Tech a 5-3 lead.West Virginia committed for errors Saturday. The Red Raiders extended their lead with a three-run blast with two outs in the seventh. WVU attempted to make things interesting in the ninth, scoring a pair of runs to cut the deficit to 8-5 with the bases loaded and one out. A double play ended the game.

Series Notes

WVU and TTU have played extremely close since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12. Tech owns a 11-9 lead all-time, but WVU has largely held its own while being the underdog. WVU is now 1-2 this year against ranked opponents, and is 1-3 against teams currently ranked in the RPI Top 30. Thursday’s win moved WVU up eight spots in RPI.With the loss Friday, Monoah’s record fell to 1-4 on the mound this season.Saturday was the third time this season WVU has committed for errors in a game.

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