WVU Takes Tech Series

In front of nearly 1,100 fans at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, West Virginia rode excellent pitching and timely hitting to their first ever Big 12 series victory on Saturday.

WVU capped a 2-1 series win over the visiting Red Raiders with a clinching 3-1 win. The victory moved the Mountaineers to 10-13 overall and 3-3 in the league, while Tech fell to 16-10 and a matching 3-3 record.

WVU starter John Means (3-1) pitched a masterful 8 1/3 innings to pick up the victory. Dan Dierdorff, who took the loss in Saturday's opener, came on for the final out to pick up his first save of the season.

After both squads went down in order in the first, West Virginia's defense began to falter. First baseman Ryan McBroom dropped an infield popup, allowing Texas Tech right fielder Eric Gutierrez to reach first. Means battled back however, and got out of the jam with no further damage.

The Mountaineers started to get things going in their half of the second, as Ryan Tuntland doubled with one out. Ryan McBroom was hit with the next pitch and the first threat of the game was in full effect. One out later Taylor Munden walked to load the bases, prompting a visit to the mound by Tech head coach Tim Tadlock. That setted Tech starter Matt Withrow, who induced backup catcher Max Nogay to pop out in the infield to end the threat.

In the top of the fourth, Gutierrez singled to center and advanced to second on another dropped infield popup, this time by Nogay. However, Means didn't let the second miscue bother him, and again made quick work of the next two batters to get out of the jam.

Tuntland, the hitting star of the weekend, then produced his biggest hit, smashing a 1-0 fastball deep over the wall in left field to give WVU a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the frame, but that was hardly the end of the excitement.

Things againgot hairy for Means in the top of the fifth, as Tech shortstop Tim Proudfoot ripped a double into left center to lead off the inning. The Red Raiders immediately decided to sacrifice Proudfoot to third and catcher Mason Randolph proceeded to do just that. However, Randolph's bunt went right back to Mason who zipped a seed to Tuntland to retire Proudfoot and put a quick halt to the scoring chance.

WVU again appeared to be in business in the bottom of the fifth when Max Nogay was hit by a pitch to start the inning, them moved to second on a balk after apparently being picked off. Bobby Boyd moved Nogay to third on the very next pitch with a fielder's choice ground out. Taylor uncorked a wild pitch on his very next throw and Nogay headed for the plate, but WVU suffered one of the worst breaks one could imagine as the pitch bounced perfectly back to Randolph, who met Nogay at the plate nearly simultaneously. Home plate umpire Darrin Sealey called Nogay out and that ended WVU's threat. Pictures showed the call to be incorrect, but as there is no instant replay in baseball, there was no score for the Mountaineers.

WVU wasted no time getting started in the bottom of the sixth. Jacob Rice was credited with an infield double as he hustled all the way to second on a ball badly misplayed by Raider third baseman Jake Barrios. Rice moved to third on a wild pitch and one out later it was Tuntland again, this time with a sharp ground ball through the hole into right to score Rice and give WVU a 2-0 lead.

As Means continued to make quick work of the momentumless Red Raiders, the WVU offense continued to pressure.

In the bottom of the eighth with one out Brady Wilson walked. Two stolen bases put Wilson on third, and Rice walked to put runners on the corner. That brought up Matt Frazer who was struggling through a miserable game. He hit a potential sacrifice fly to left, but Tech left fielder Brett Bell dropped the ball. Wilson scored, but Bell got Rice on a force at second. The play left WVU with a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead, but Tech had one rally left.

Means came out to try to finish off the Red Raiders, and promptly walked the leadoff batter. One out later Means hit Barrios with a pitch and his day was done as Coach Randy Mazey called on Pascal Paul to come in and close out the ballgame. Paul make quick work of Devon Conley but then lost the strike zone. Paul threw a wild pitch to advance the runners to second and third then allowed a run scoring single to Tim Proudfoot. Paul then hit catcher Elliot Richoux with a pitch to load the bases, prompting Mazey to call on Dierdorff, who got a fly ball out to end the game.

Tuntland had three of the four WVU base hits on the day and drove in two of the three runs. Brady Wilson walked twice and stole three bases. Withrow (2-2) took the loss for Texas Tech despite only allowing one run on two hits over four innings.

The Mountaineers return to action this Tuesday at Eastern Kentucky. WVU then returns home on Thursday to host a four -ame series at Hawley Field with the University of New Orleans. Tickets are available at WVUGame.com or at the box office. Plenty of seats remain.

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