WVU took the second game of the Campbell series, 6-3 in Buies Creek, NC.
Jim Perry Stadium set the scene for yesterday’s 8-6 Camel win, and the Mountaineer baseball team was determined to come back out swinging early and evade another late-inning comeback from the hosts.
The second game of this weekend series went the way WVU head coach Randy Mazey’s team wanted it to. WVU (9-7) was coming off last night’s loss to Campbell (8-9) and couldn’t afford to give away a third-straight loss on the season.
That fight became evident in the top of the first inning. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Kade Kuehler took the mound for the Camels, but his defense was quickly picked through. He walked WVU senior Austin Davis to kick off the game, and Davis advanced to second on a wild pitch. Davis’ heads-up base running wasn’t done, as he capitalized on a ground-out from freshman Grant Hussey to propel him to third. With two outs, clean-up man McGwire Holbrook sent a hard-hit double into center field, and the sophomore sent Davis home for the game’s first score. Kuehler next walked redshirt senior Vince Ippoliti to put runners on the corners, a familiar position for the WVU offense, and one which sophomore Braden Barry would soon take advantage of. The sophomore singled through the right side, sending Holbrook running toward home for WVU’s second score and a 2-0 lead.
WVU’s starter, sophomore left-handed pitcher Ben Hampton was fully prepared to keep the Camels off the board, and he did so in 1-2-3 fashion, forcing three straight groundouts to the left side of the infield.
WVU stacked on a third run in the top of the second, but only one pitch was needed to Tevin Tucker. The bottom of the lineup’s redshirt junior took Kuehler’s pitch and sent it over the outfield wall for a solo home run, the fifth of his Mountaineer career.
Now down 3-0, the Camels were no match for Hampton’s dealings. He forced two more groundouts and a quick flyout to sit down the side. Kuehler found his ground in the top of the third, sitting the Mountaineer side down in order, but Hampton came out even quicker in the bottom of the third, dealing his side a 12-pitch sit-down. The pitching battle continued in the top of the fourth; Kuelher forced another 1-2-3 inning to the bottom of WVU’s lineup. Hampton fired back with a four-batter inning of his own, and the uptight game progressed as such until the bottom of the fifth.
Hampton came into the fifth inning wheeling and dealing, but one ball met the bat of Campbell’s Logan Jordan and left the ballpark over the left field wall. It took five innings, but the Camels were finally on the board, 3-1.
A 3-1 lead wasn’t sufficient for WVU, especially after what happened last night. The team rallied together a two-RBI sac bunt from freshman Alex Khan that brought Tyler Cox and Kevin Dowdell home. The result of base path chaos, the combination of the freshman and junior, respectively, stole their way around the bases in the span of 30 seconds. Khan’s sac bunt proved perfectly timed, and the Mountaineers soared to a 5-1 lead in the top of the sixth.
Despite another Camel score (5-2) in the bottom of the sixth, the Mountaineers continued to push ahead. A sac fly from Davis scored Tucker from third, bumping the WVU lead up to 6-2. It would stay that way until the second-to-last batter of the ball game.
Hampton dealt another three-up-three-down inning in the seventh, keeping all the action in the dirt; Kuehler’s replacement, redshirt senior righty Jonathan Beymer echoed Hampton’s outing, sitting down his respective side in similar fashion. Hampton would pitch 7.1 innings before Mazey replaced him with righty reliever Chase Smith; the fifth year would close down the remaining two outs of the seventh inning with ease.
The Camels put one more pitcher in to close the game: freshman righty Garret Kangas, and the Mountaineers were relatively silenced. Still, when the Camels came up for their last chance at redemption, it was too late.
Even with a single to left field that scored Campbell’s redshirt junior Jarrod Belbin, the Mountaineers took a handed win, 6-3.
Hampton got the win, while Kuehler went home with the loss after his five innings. WVU’s game was played cleanly on both sides of the ball, leaving Jim Perry Stadium with six runs, three hits and no errors.
With the series now split, WVU and Campbell will battle again tomorrow at 1 p.m. The final will be broadcast on ESPN+ and freshman righty Chris Sleeper is expected to take the mound for West Virginia.