It was a back-and-forth Saturday for the West Virginia baseball team as the Mountaineers lost 9-2 to the visiting Kansas Jayhawks in the first game of a doubleheader before bouncing back to win 15-2 in the nightcap. With the split, West Virginia (10-9, 2-1 Big 12) earned the series win over Kansas (14-8, 1-2) after winning the opener Friday night.
Game one started as a pitcher’s duel, as WVU lefty Adam Tulloch (0-1, 6.11) and KU right-hander Cole Larsen (4-1, 0.86) traded zeros for the first four innings. West Virginia broke through in the bottom of the fifth as third baseman Matt McCormick drove in shortstop Mikey Kluska with a sacrifice fly to take a 1-0 lead.
Tulloch lost control in the top of the sixth, hitting the first two hitters of the inning, both lefthanders, with sliders that drifted too far inside.
“It was the slider to left-handed hitters,” WVU assistant coach Steve Sabins said after the game. “Normally you want that left-on-left slider to play going away from a left-handed hitter. That’s a pitch that he likes and, before that inning, he said that he wanted to lead off that left-handed hitter with.”
Kansas capitalized on the free baserunners with two singles and a double later in the inning to go up 4-1 on the Mountaineers. The Jayhawks added a fifth run in the top of the seventh and then put up another four-spot in the top of the eighth to put the game away.
Tulloch’s final line was four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts, two walks and three hit batters, taking the loss. Second baseman Tyler Doanes finished game one 3 for 4 with two doubles and a run scored.
After a 30 minute break, the Mountaineers brought the bats out early in game two. WVU batters walked five times in what was a disastrous bottom of the second inning for Kansas starter Eli Davis (3-2, 4.45). By the time the inning was over, WVU had gone up 6-0 on the Jayhawks.
Designated hitter Vince Ippoliti said once WVU’s hitters were able to get a read on Davis, they were able to keep having good at-bats against him.
“In our hitters’ meetings before the game, we always watch the film on the starter and get a read for his pitches and what his tendencies are,” Ippoliti said. “Once we bat and get [at-bats] against him in the game we try and pass as much information around as we can.”
Davis lasted just 1 1/3 innings, being tagged for the loss with six earned runs and seven walks. WVU scored five more runs in the bottom of the fourth on RBI hits by Ippoliti, catcher McGwire Holbrook and right fielder Austin Davis to go up 11-0. Pairs of runs in the fifth and sixth gave WVU a 15-2 lead and the teams agreed to end the game after the top of the seventh.
Ippoliti finished game two 2 for 3 with five RBI. First baseman Hudson Byorick, third baseman Kevin Brophy and Davis all also finished with two RBI. Left fielder Paul McIntosh hit a second-inning home run. Ben Hampton (1-0, 0.77) started the game, throwing three scoreless innings and was followed by Carlson Reed (1-1, 6.75) who got the win, allowing two runs in three innings of work.
The Mountaineers will not play a mid-week game this week with their next action being a three-game road series at Oklahoma State next weekend.