Coming into Friday’s Big 12 opener, the Kansas Jayhawks had won seven games in a row, averaging 10.7 runs per game in that stretch, and were coming off of a 20-5 victory over Lafayette on Tuesday. Conversely, the West Virginia Mountaineers were just 1-3 in their last four games, averaging 3.5 runs per game, coming off a 7-1 loss to Marshall.
Baseball games rarely go as they are expected to, however, and West Virginia thumped the visiting Jayhawks 11-0 Friday night at Mon County ballpark behind a gem from starting pitcher Jackson Wolf. The Mountaineers (9-8) piled up 13 hits with a pair of home runs as Kansas (13-7) did not get a runner to third base until the eighth inning.
Wolf (2-2, 1.93) cruised through 7 1/3 innings of work, scattering four hits and two walks and striking out eight.
“I was able to throw every one of my pitches for a strike,” Wolf said after the game. “The fastball was coming out of my hand good, the slider was really working as well. That was really the 1-2 punch tonight but I threw some really good changeups in there as well.”
WVU has had some issues with its starting pitching this season. Starters have not pitched deep into games like Wolf was able to Friday night, which has led to the Mountaineers having to use a lot of arms out of the bullpen early in the season.
“We’re 17 games in and I don’t think we’ve had a starter go six innings,” assistant coach Steve Sabins said. “So that was a really, really great start for us, especially with a doubleheader tomorrow. To be able to save some bullpen arms and keep some of your best relievers fresh for tomorrow, that’s massive.”
For a while, it looked like the game would be a pitcher’s duel and Kansas starter Ryan Cyr (3-2, 4.78) allowed just two runs in the first four innings. First baseman Hudson Byorick led off the second inning with his first home run as a Mountaineer and designated hitter Vince Ippoliti later scored on a single by left fielder Braden Barry to put WVU up 2-0 after two.
And that is how the score stayed until the bottom of the fifth. WVU scored runs in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings to eventually pull ahead and win 11-0. The offense was led by a three-hit, three-run day from right fielder Austin Davis and a three-RBI game from centerfielder Victor Scott. Byorick and catcher Paul McIntosh both hit home runs.
Earlier in the day, it was announced that WVU and Kansas’s three-game weekend series will conclude with a doubleheader Saturday afternoon. Sunday’s series finale was canceled due to an expectation for inclement weather.
Action will start at Mon County Ballpark at 2 p.m. Saturday. Game two will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one. WVU is scheduled to start Adam Tulloch (0-0, 6.00) and Ben Hampton (2-0, 1.04) while Kansas is set to counter with Cole Larson (3-1, 0.79) and Eli Davis (3-1, 2.90).