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Mountaineers take weekend vs. Texas Tech

Kenny Kemp
Mountaineer starter John Means carried a shutout into the ninth inning of the nightcap.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia baseball team saved its best for last and finished a weekend of firsts by claiming its first Big 12 series win Saturday night at chilly Appalachian Power Park.

The Mountaineers turned the trick by splitting a doubleheader with Texas Tech, dropping the first game 6-4 in 10 innings and coming back to earn a 3-1 win in the second.

WVU also defeated the Red Raiders 2-0 on Friday night and now sits at 3-3 in Big 12 play and 10-13 overall.

Coach Randy Mazey said his team is playing with a lot of confidence.

"We expect to win every game we play, and after we beat them [Friday] night every one of our players to a man felt like we can hang with anybody in the league," Mazey said. "[Texas Tech] went to Texas last weekend and beat them two out of three so when we came out Friday night and showed we could win against a team that beat a perennial national power on the road, we felt like we could play with anybody."

On Friday night, Harrison Musgrave delivered a gem, striking out 13 in 62/3 innings to lead WVU to a win.

West Virginia flashed good starting pitching in both games again on Saturday, in particular by nightcap starter John Means, who limited the Red Raiders to just one earned run on three hits and a walk while striking out four in 81/3 innings.

He ran up 125 pitches before getting pulled in the ninth after walking one and hitting a batter. One of those runners came around to score before relievers Pascal Paul and Dan Dierdorff combined to get the last two outs.

"I really wanted to [finish the game] but my arm was sagging after 125 pitches so I needed to get out of there," Means said. "I didn't even know I threw 125, but that was the most [I've ever thrown], definitely."

Ryan Tuntland provided all the offense Means needed in the second game, blasting a solo home run to left field in the fourth inning and driving in another run with a single to right in the sixth. He finished 3 for 4 and had all but one of the Mountaineers' hits in the game, all after tallying two hits and two RBIs in the first game.

"I've been working with the coaches, keeping it simple, driving the ball to the middle of the field, and it's been working out for us," Tuntland said.

Despite a loss, West Virginia also showed a lot of grit in the first game.

Texas Tech's Jake Barrios seemed to slam the door shut the door on the Mountaineers after smoking a line-drive two-run homer over the left field wall to put the Red Raiders up 4-0 in the top of the eighth.

But Tech's defense reopened that door, committing two errors on ground balls to put Bobby Boyd and Brady Wilson on base to lead off the bottom half.

The middle of WVU's lineup made the Raiders pay as a two-run single by Tuntland followed by an RBI single by Ryan McBroom pulled the Mountaineers within 4-3.

With two outs, Mazey chose to pinch-hit former Magnolia High School standout and Kennedy Award winner Justin Fox for catcher Alan Filauro, and Fox responded with a single up the middle to tie it at 4.

Mazey explained that Fox's big game-tying hit was much bigger than a tally on the scoreboard.

"It meant a lot to everybody in our dugout," Mazey said. "He had a death in his family and he wasn't even here last night. He got here right before the game, so for him to come here and do that, what he did for his family and his teammates, that was special."

But after a scoreless ninth inning, it was Barrios to the rescue again for Tech as the junior third baseman tripled to left with one out in the top of the 10th and scored the go-ahead run on a Mason Randolph single. Randolph eventually scored on a fielder's choice to account for the final run.

Billy Fleming had three hits and McBroom added a double, accounting for West Virginia's lone extra-base hit of the game.

Former Wheeling Park player Corey Walter delivered a strong starting effort from the mound, giving up three runs in seven innings on five hits and three walks while striking out six. 

Former Nitro High School standout Matt Frazer struggled a bit on Saturday, recording just one single in his eight at-bats and reaching once on a walk.

The Mountaineers will play their next game at Easter Kentucky on Tuesday before hosting New Orleans in a four-game set in Morgantown beginning Thursday.

West Virginia's next game at Appalachian Power Park will be against Morehead State on April 16.

Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, ryan.pritt@wvgazette.com, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.

 


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