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WVU Baseball Falls 8-6 to Campbell in First Meeting

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At Jim Perry Stadium in Buies Creek, NC, the West Virginia Mountaineers fell to the Campbell Camels 8-6.

It was the first meeting between the two teams, and the elusive team win that the 9-6 Mountaineers needed would have to wait.

Campbell (7-9) pulled out the upset courtesy of seven unanswered runs, and West Virginia, a team which at one point lead 4-0, couldn’t come back.

It wasn’t for lack of trying in the first third of the game. The Mountaineers excelled in placing freshman JJ Wetherholt at first, even advancing him to second base mere seconds later. Two batters later, fellow freshman Grant Hussey scored the third baseman with a double into right field.

WVU freshman right-handed pitcher Michael Kilker dealt the top of the Campbell lineup a 1-2-3 inning, welcoming his team back to the diamond. Camel sophomore right-handed pitcher Thomas Harrington sat his side down in similar 1-2-3 fashion, and the Mountaineers were once more on the defensive; Kilker was 15 pitches in and surrendered a walk before forcing fly-outs to close out the second inning.

The third inning seemed the Mountaineers’ time to shine. The bottom of the lineup’s redshirt junior Tevin Tucker was hit by a pitch, but it served its purpose to get him on base. He quickly stole his way into scoring position, and the top of the order’s senior Austin Davis singled and advanced Tucker to third. With no outs, runners on the corners, and Wetherholt back up to bat, Davis stole second. Wetherholt grounded out, but scored Tucker in the process to put WVU up 2-0. Junior Victor Scott’s sac bunt served its purpose next: to score Davis and boost the lead up to 3-0. Hussey set down another single and the base path shifted again, this time sending Scott home from second to score what would eventually become the Mountaineers’ final score for the next five innings.

The bottom of the third saw two Camel runs score from the top of the order off a sac bunt and a groundout ball to first base. WVU head coach Randy Mazey pulled Kilker in favor of relief man, redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Nathan Short, and the Camels began their scoring run. A sac bunt from sophomore Bryce Arnold advanced redshirt sophomore Logan Jordan to second base and redshirt senior Ty Babin home to finally get a run on the scoreboard, 4-1. Jordan would eventually score after a quick groundout to first base off the bat of redshirt sophomore Zach Neto. A 4-2 lead wasn’t great, but the Mountaineers managed to stifle the scoring at two runs in the third.

A pitching battle in the fourth produced a three-up-three-down scenario for both Harrington and Short, shooting this game straight into the fifth inning, where an unprecedented Campbell run was waiting.

Jordan’s single up the middle was advanced after Short hit Arnold with a pitch. The next batter up, redshirt senior Connor Denning, sent a double into the outfield, scoring both Arnold and Jordan and tying the game at four. The Camels weren’t finished. WVU closer Beau Lowery came in and immediately, Denning scored on a routine single off the bat of teammate Jarrod Belbin. Just like that, Campbell was up 5-4. Lowery was pulled in favor of Trey Braithwaite, but the fifth-year righty couldn’t stop the onslaught either.

With no outs on the board, the Camels put together a four-batter middle of the lineup that loaded the bases and scored two additional runs off a walk and another groundout. The seven-run tear was concluded with a routine fly-out to center field which sat the Camels down, but the damage had been done.

Now became the time that the Mountaineers needed to dig themselves out of a hole. On the mound, reliever Zach Ottinger was doing as much as he could. The senior righty sat the side down in six pitches, but Campbell’s reliever, lefty Ryan Chasse, did the same when given his chance in the top of the seventh. The Mountaineer bats seemed stale tonight, unable to make serious moves under the circumstances.

Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for the Camels, and more specifically, Belbin. He sent a hard-hit home run over the left field wall, a solo home run to ratchet his team’s lead up 8-4.

WVU would go on to score one run each in the eighth and ninth, but a two-run rally was all the Mountaineer bats could muster. The eighth inning saw Scott bunt into a single get himself into scoring position courtesy of a Camel throwing error and a stolen base. A groundout from sophomore McGwire Holbrook brought him home and added the fifth run. In the ninth, a double from fellow sophomore Braden Barry would place him two bases away from closing in on Campbell’s eight runs. A Camel error scored him on the next play, but an 8-6 final would stand.

With that, the Mountaineers moved to 9-7 and the Campbell Camels, despite logging five errors, clawed steadily out of a losing season to 8-9. Harrington got the win for the Camels, while Short received the loss after two innings pitched and a trio of hits allowed.

The Mountaineers and Camels will play again tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Jim Perry Stadium. That game will also be broadcast on ESPN+.

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