Musgrave Blanks Jayhawks

Harrison Musgrave threw a complete game shutout and Brady Wilson hit a one-out RBI triple in the bottom of the eighth inning in Beckley as the Mountaineers beat Kansas 1-0 Friday to take the first of a three-game series.

Thomas Taylor (4-1) was the hard luck loser for Kansas, pitching 7 1/3 spectacular innings before walking Taylor Munden with one down in the eighth and giving up the triple to Boyd.

WVU (25-18, 7-6 Big 12) had several missed opportunities to take an early lead at Linda K. Epling stadium. Wilson singled in the first inning with one out but was left stranded as Jacob Rice struck out looking and Ryan Tuntland popped out to second.

Billy Flemming then ripped a two-out double in the second but was left stranded when Alan Filauro grounded out to second to end the inning. Kansas put on the pressure in the third inning as designated hitter Connor McKay laid a perfect bunt down the third base line for a hit. Jayhawk catcher Ka'lana Eldredge's sacrifice bunt that first baseman Ryan McBroom thought was going to roll foul didn't, and KU was in business with two runners on and nobody out.

Kansas (25-16, 9-7) went to the well once too often, however, as center fielder Tucker Tharp's attempted sacrifice bunt was fielded perfectly by Musgrave (7-1, 2.10 ERA) who fired a seed to Ryan Tuntland for the first out of the inning. Musgrave then got KU leadoff hitter Justin Protacio (0-4) to foul out to Tuntland and induced a routine groundout from Kevin Kuntz to end the threat. Those three outs started a string of 13 straight Kansas batters to be retired by Musgrave in front of more than 2,000 fans.

Thomas was dueling Musgrave pitch for pitch but finally faced his first threat in the fifth. Billy Fleming led off with his second hit of the game. One out later Bobby Boyd singled to center. Thomas buckled down and got Taylor Munden to ground into the "Taylor" made 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.

One out into the seventh cleanup hitter Alex DeLeon ripped a single into right field to snap Musgrave's streak. It was only a blip as Musgrave quickly induced two routine popups to end the inning.

Fleming doubled again in the bottom of the seventh with two outs, but was once again stranded as Thomas got Filauro to pop out to left.

Kansas mounted their biggest threat of the night in the top of the eighth. Connor McKay got jammed on a fastball but the weak grounder went off Musgrave's glove and then Fleming was unable to make the bare handed play to allow McKay to reach base to lead off the inning.

Again Kansas coach Ritch Price went back to the sacrifice bunt and McKay was on second with one out with Tucker Tharp coming to the plate. Two pitches later Price sent McKay to third and Filauro couldn't get a handle on the ball to make a throw and Kansas had their first runner at third base of the evening.

Musgrave appeared a little shaken for the first time in the evening, and walked Tharp on a 3-1 fastball. Coach Randy Mazey made his first and only trip to the mound of the game to settle down Musgrave and to call his defense. The Mountaineers played the corners in and what looked like Munden playing in while Fleming was at double play depth. Musgrave then mowed down Protacio for the second out and the infield took their normal positions. Shortstop Kevin Kuntz then flied out to center and the Mountaineers raced off the field to the roar of the crowd and chats of "Lets Go Mountaineers".

After Thomas got Boyd to ground back to the box, Munden worked a walk that brought Price out to the mound. Price had ace closer Jordan Piche' ready in the bullpen but stuck with Thomas.

Wilson made Kansas pay by ripping a 0-1 fastball deep into the left center field gap for a run scoring triple. The Beckley crowd roared their appreciation, shaking the stands as Price came out to remove Thomas, who finished the game throwing 7 1/3 innings, allowing one earned run on six hits with two walks, two strikeouts and a hit batsman. Piche' came on and retired both batters he faced to lower his ERA to 0.46.

Mazey had Pascal Paul (team leading 6 saves) and Corey Walter ready in the bullpen, but decided to send Musgrave out to finish what he started, having thrown 99 pitches through eight innings.

Facing the heart of Kansas' order, Musgrave got a comebacker for the first out, fanned DeLeon for the second and got Jordan Dreiling to ground out to Fleming at second base to end the game and send the Mountaineers rushing onto the field to the sounds of John Denver's "Country Roads".

Fleming led the Mountaineers with three hits, including two doubles, in four trips. Wilson finished 2-3 with the triple and game-winning RBI.

West Virginia and Kansas play Saturday at 1 pm at Epling Stadium in Beckley. John Means (3-2, 3.05) takes the mound against a yet-to-be determined Kansas starter in what was supposed to be the Sunday game of this three-game set. However, with a storm front due to hit the area on Sunday afternoon, both schools decided to play a double header Saturday.

Dan Dierdorff (2-5, 4.78) is slated to take the hill for WVU in the 4 p.m. finale against Kansas lefty Wes Benjamin (4-4, 4.50)

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