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Takeaways: Blaine Traxel Improves Throughout Game, Defenses Shine in WVU’s 5-1 Win at Arizona



The West Virginia Mountaineers claimed the road series against Arizona with a 5-1 victory on Saturday evening. 

It may not have been their most impressive game, but it was their best all-around win as the Mountaineers played complimentary baseball and worked like a well-oiled machine.

Traxel Takes Over

After using seven pitchers across 11 innings on Friday, the Mountaineers needed a good game from Traxel to keep the pressure off the bullpen.

The fifth-year veteran put on a pitching masterclass, throwing a complete game on 124 pitches while striking out six.

Most impressive, though, was how Traxel seemed to improve as the game went on. Traxel allowed five base runners in the first two innings and eight across the first five. He managed to pitch out of trouble, only allowing one run, but looked shaky at times before everything seemed to click.

Traxel recorded 13 straight outs to end the game, putting the exclamation point on the complete game with a pair of ninth inning strikeouts. 

Wildcats Defense Keeps Them In It

With a four-run cushion, the Mountaineers won comfortably. Were it a one-run game in the late innings, Traxel might’ve gotten the hook. 

West Virginia recorded better numbers in nearly every offensive category, and the game could’ve been a blowout were it not for a handful of standout plays by Arizona’s defense.

Arizona seemed ready for Mazeyball on Saturday: perhaps it was a point of emphasis for the Wildcats after JJ Wetherholt literally stole a win on Friday night.

The Mountaineers put a pair of runners on in the first inning to threaten Wildcats’ starter Anthony Susac. A 4-6-3 double play ended the rally. 

Third baseman Ellis Garcia lined into another double play in the third inning when designated hitter Sam White got doubled off first base.

White struck out on a dropped strike three in the fifth inning, and when Wildcats catcher Cameron LaLiberte threw to first for the putout, Mountaineers catcher Dayne Leonard tried to steal third base. The Wildcats didn’t fall for the bait. First baseman Kiko Romero threw to third in time to allow a tag on Leonard, ending another inning with an unusual double play.

Mountaineers Help Traxel Settle In

Same story, other team. With a pair of at-bats with the bases loaded in the second inning, Arizona could’ve broken the game open were it not for the Mountaineers’ defense. 

Left fielder Landon Wallace cut off a dangerous single down the third base line that loaded the bases, preventing any runs from scoring and limiting the damage to a sacrifice fly RBI. 

When pitching to contact like Traxel does, you live and die by the defense. Take his start last week, where a pair of errors led to two runs scored as the game got away from West Virginia early. 

The Mountaineers worked in concert, each part of their team complimenting the rest in a strong all-around victory.

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