Change Of Tone

In what started out as a slugfest,starting pitchers Dan Dierdorff (3-5) and Wes Benjamin settled down in a good old fashioned pitchers' duel as West Virginia (26-18, 8-6) took a 3-0 first inning lead and held on for a 4-3 victory over Kansas (25-17, 9-8).

Neither pitcher started off the game looking like they would last past the third or fourth inning. Dierdorff gave up a leadoff single and then hit KU left fielder Michael Suiter with a pitch. That put the Jayhawks in business, but Dierdorff settled in to get the last two outs to escape the first inning jam.

Kansas starter Benjamin (4-5) was also shaky to start, and then was victimized by his defense. After a one out single by Brady Wilson, Ryan Tuntland grounded to second baseman Justin Protacio. He fielded the ball cleanly, but his throw pulled first baseman Jacob Boylan off the bag, and Tuntland was on first base with Wilson at third. Benjamin then walked Ryan McBroom to load the bases.

Anyone who grew up a Cincinnati Reds fan can recite Marty Brennaman's favorite saying: "Walks will haunt," and this one certainly plagued the Jayhawks. Red hot Billy Fleming came to the plate and ripped a three-run double deep to left center field to give WVU a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. That blast came on the heels of his 3-3 performance Friday night, making him the most prolific hitter of the weekend.

Kansas was not ready to fade into darkness, however. Dierdorff was clearly not fooling anyone with his early stuff, and the Jayhawks opened the inning with a single. One out later number eight hitter Jacob Boylen ripped a double deep into left center field to cut the WVU lead to 3-1, which prompted coach Randy Mazeyto send Corey Walter to the bullpen to get loose. Clearly this was an important game to Mazey and he was not about to let this lead get away.

One out later leadoff hiter Justin Protacio slapped a single into left field to score Boylen and cut the lead to 3-2. Pitching coach Derek Matlock made a trip to the mound -- clearly to give Walter more time to get warm, but Dierdorff escaped the jam and WVU held the lead going to the bottom of the second.

WVU catcher Alan Filauro wasted no time getting the Mountaineers back on track by lacing Benjamin's first pitch of the second deep to right for an opposite field home run to extend the lead to 4-2. That deep ball proved important, as Kansas came right back in the third inning.

Three hole hitter Michael Suiter was credited with a double on a ground ball into the hole that Munden could not control and then kicked into left field. Alex DeLeon then pounded an 0-1 fastball deep into the gap in left center to score Suiter and the lead was cut to 4-3.

It was at this point that everyone in the stadium settled in for what looked like the makings of a 15-12 ball game. Dierdorff and Benjamin had other ideas, though. WVU's pitcher retired the next 15 batters he faced. Not to be outdone, Benjamin retired the next 10 Mountaineers at the plate. Both traded goose eggs for the rest of the game, turning what was a slugfest into a game that mirrored Friday's 1-0 game.

Dierdoff ended up throwing a complete game, allowing three runs earned on seven hits with six strikeouts and a walk. Dierdorff did not allow a Kansas base hit after the third inning until the Jayhawks had two outs in the top of the ninth inning. Dierdorff closed out the game by striking out Tucker Tharp to a rousing ovation by another nice and loud crowd in Beckley.

Benjamin finished with his second complete game on the season, allowing four runs, one earned, on four hits, walking one batter and striking out three.

Brady Wilson led the Mountaineers with two hits in four plate appearances with a run scored and a stolen base. Filauro finished 1-3 with an HR and an RBI and Fleming finished 1-3 with the first inning three run double.

The Mountaineers have now clinched their second consecutive Big 12 series victory and have used only two pitchers in doing it. Mazey turns to regular Sunday starter John Means against an as yet to be announced Jayhawks pitcher.

Game time is slated for 3:30 this afternoon as both teams try to avoid a fast moving storm that is slated to arrive in Beckley by 6:00 p.m.

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