Takeaways: One-Hit Day, Strong Defense Propel Mountaineers Past UNC Greensboro
West Virginia baseball won their ninth game in a row Sunday, shutting out the UNC Greensboro Spartans 8-0. Mountaineers pitchers were up to the task in the win, combining for a one-hitter, and their defense did an excellent job of backing them up.
The Mountaineers’ pitching staff allowed just one hit on the day, a third inning single.
Starter Grant Siegel has improved steadily since a couple of rough starts to begin the year and Sunday was his best performance yet. Siegel allowed one hit, one walk, and a hit by pitch in five innings of work, needing 77 pitches to get through his day.
The Tulane transfer has a tighter leash than the other starters do, but if he keeps up these performances—and his offense continues to give him a sizable lead to work with—Siegel could start to pitch later into games and really flesh out his ability as a starter.
Young guns Robby Porco and Keegan Allen took the middle innings, and Randy Mazey turned to entrenched veterans Noah Short and Carlson Reed to finish the Spartans off.
While the pitching staff only managed seven strikeouts, they didn’t need them to succeed.
Only one Spartan made it into scoring position, and the Mountaineers did an excellent job of limiting hard contact. The lone single didn’t make it out of the infield, a testament to the pitchers’ ability to sneak under bats even when they weren’t able to miss them entirely. West Virginia’s infield was up to the task, putting out 14 as a result of groundouts.
With ground balls come double plays and what traffic the Spartans did manage to put on the base pads was quickly erased by the Mountaineers’ defense.
West Virginia turned four double plays on the day and nearly had a fifth (a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out where the baserunner was called out for interference) as Mountaineers’ pitchers faced just two more batters than the minimum. Batting average on balls in play can be the difference between a dominating win and a close loss. After some struggles with errors to begin the season, West Virginia’s defense has been one of their strong suits, and a reason for their continued success.
Center fielder Braden Barry hit his fourth home run of the season (and second of the weekend) in the second inning, a three-run blast that gave West Virginia a 4-0 lead. The junior crushed the ball all weekend, with both his home runs hitting triple digits, leaving the bat at 109 and 100 miles per hour.
He’s everything you could want from a leadoff man, able to draw walks and hit for average, fast enough to wreak havoc on the bases. Now he’s added a power stroke to his game with this recent hot streak, helping West Virginia’s offense put up dominant performances.