Wheeling, W. Va., junior Corey Walter dominated on the mound from the start and the Mountaineers got timely, if not plentiful, hitting as the defeated the Privateers 5-1 in the first game of a scheduled doubleheader. WVU got a home run from Ryan McBroom two RBIs from Jacob to win their third consecutive game against UNO, which played its best game of the set to date.
Walter (2-2) threw a complete game five-hitter, striking out eight and walking one to help give Randy Mazey his 200th win as a head coach. UNO starter Stone Speer (1-6) pitched the best game of the series for any New Orleans hurler, but still yielded five earned runs and 11 hits in seven innings of work. Faced with Walter's gem, that wasn't nearly enough. After Walter escaped a bases loaded one-out jam in the second, McBroom got the Mountaineers on the board with a long blast to left field over the NAPA sign to give WVU (14-13) a 1-0 lead it would never relinquish. The Mountaineers added to their lead in the fourth as Ryan Tuntland and McBroom walked to lead off the inning, and Jacob Rice followed with a double down the left field line to extend the lead to 3-0. The Privateers narrowed the gap to 3-1 in the sixth when Walter made mistake to UNO left fielder Reese Kanter, who roped a home run to right field to cut the lead to 3-1. That was a mere blemish, however, as Walter, who had retired eight in a row to that point, responded by setting down the next five hitters in order.
West Virginia went back to work in the seventh inning to provide more cushion. Bobby Boyd, who put in extra hitting work after Friday's game, led off the inning with a bunt single and stole second, his 12th stolen base of the year. One out later Rice drilled another double to left, extending the lead to 4-1. He came around to score on a Matt Frazer ground out and a wild pitch, giving the Mountaineers a four-run margin to work with.
It appeared as if Walter would need at least some of that help, as New Orleans loaded the bases on pair of walks and a hit batsman. Number nine hitter Zach Pohto led off with a single and Jonathan Coco was then plunked on a 1-2 pitch one out later. Walter struck out Reese Kanter, but then the Mountaineers made a defensive mistake. In what had to be a miscommunication, Walter turned and fired to second on a pickoff, but nobody was at the bag. The ball rolled into center field and both runners advanced, putting runners in scoring position and bringing up UNO cleanup hitter Zacary Hawkins. WVU put Hawkins on base to face Andre Damiens, who had whiffed twice but was hitting .319 coming in to the series.
Showing confidence in his pitcher, who had only thrown 78 pitches coming into the inning, Mazey didn't have anyone warming in the bullpen. Walter paid off his coach's confidence by getting Damiens to ground to short. Ryan McBroom made a nice scoop of a throw in the dirt to end the inning.
After WVU went fairly quietly in the eighth, Mazey sent Walter out to finish out what he started and he did not disappoint as Walter induced two routine groundouts and then fanned Thursday's starting pitcher Seth Laigast, who played this game at shortstop, to end the contest.
The win put WVU over the .500 mark for the first time this year. Catcher Alan Filauro was 3-4 and had two RBI in the contest. Walter continued the trend of control pitching by firing 74 strikes on 107 pitches while walking just one batter.