No. 22 West Virginia (1-2) started the 2018 regular season on the right foot with a win over Jacksonville (2-1) Friday but dropped each of the next two games to fall in the weekend series.
The Mountaineers started the weekend by hanging on for a one-run victory Friday night, were defeated by three on Saturday and lost by one in a low-scoring affair Sunday.
Reliever Shane Ennis earned the lone win on the mound for WVU, while a trio of Mountaineers homered in the series.
On Friday, it was Chase Illig’s long ball in the fifth inning that proved to be deciding hit. At that time he made it a 5-3 game, and WVU went on to win 5-4.
An inning earlier, Illig doubled and scored on a single by Jimmy Galusky as part of the four-run fourth.
The Dolphins knocked WVU starter BJ Myers out of the game in the fifth when they cut the two-run deficit in half with a two-out single by Scott Dubrule. Ennis entered, minimized damage from there on out, stranding a pair of runners in each the fifth and sixth, and qualified for the win.
Sophomore Sam Kessler recorded the final two outs to earn his first career save.
Jacksonville’s had the upper hand Saturday, with the offense taking on seven runs through the first seven innings, and the pitching staff limiting the West Virginia offense to just one run on two hits through the same point in the game.
Dolphins starter Tyler Santana struck out seven during his seven innings of work and didn’t allow a hit until the fifth.
WVU’s hitting attack showed up in the eighth, but already trailing 7-1, it was too late.
Galusky clubbed a two-run homer, the sixth of his career.
The Mountaineers added another run and loaded the bases in the ninth, but all three runners were still on base when the final out was recorded, sealing a 7-4 Dolphins victory.
Once again West Virginia was held to just one hit through its first seven trips to the plate.
First baseman Kevin Brophy was that one hit – a home run in the top of the second that gave WVU an early lead.
That was the only hit the Mountaineers would get. Only two other hitters reached base in the game.
Jacksonville scored lone runs in the second and fifth, but had other chances.
Mountaineer starter Isaiah Kearns allowed seven baserunners in his 2.2 innings, and Kade Strowd allowed four hitters to reach during his 3.1 innings on the mound. However, they each surrendered just one run, and Mountaineer pitching stranded seven runners on base through the seventh inning.
On Friday, pitcher Alek Manoah picked up his first career hit with a single in the fifth inning. The next day, he suffered the loss on the mound.
Marques Inman, playing in his first games since suffering a knee injury last March against the Dolphins, singled in the fifth Saturday to break up Santana’s no-hit bid.
WVU was just 1-10 last year when scoring two or fewer runs, and will start this year winless in that stat.
Five Mountaineer hitters – Galusky, Inman, Brophy, Kyle Gray, and Darius Hill – collected at least one hit in two of the three games.
Illig, Galusky and Inman each had multi-hit games, though no WVU hitters had two multi-hit games.
West Virginia heads to Conway, South Carolina next weekend to play four games in the Brittain Resorts Invitational.
The Mountaineers will play against VCU Friday morning, battle Illinois and VCU on Saturday, and will end the weekend with a game against the 2016 NCAA Champion Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.
WVU put together one of its best offensive outputs ever against Coastal last year in 22-9 win also in Conway.