Wasted Excellence

Missed opportunities early and mistakes late ruined an excellent start by Sean Carley as West Virginia dropped a second straight game to open its season with a 3-1 loss to Delaware.

Carley shutout the Blue Hens for six innings, allowing just two hits and retiring 11 of the first 12 and 18 of the 20 total batters faced. The righthander, pitching his first collegiate game in 1,015 days after transferring from Air Force, got the leadoff hitter each inning and was nearly untouchable, throwing just 16 balls over 20 at-bats and reaching a three-ball count just once. Delaware never moved a runner into scoring position and seemed unable to mount much offense against the 6-4, 245-pounder's mix of two- and four-seam fastballs and a solid offspeed pitch.

The game changed drastically once Carley departed as the then-pitcher of record. West Virginia nearly chased Delaware starter Dan Gatto (1-0) multiple times, wasting nine of its 10 total hits over 6 2/3 innings by leaving runners in scoring position in four of the first six innings. That saddled Carley with a much tighter game than was necessary and put the Blue Hens down just 1-0 as the Mountaineers went to the bullpen. UD immediately blew up the relievers, scoring three runs in the seventh on just two hits against three different pitchers. WVU's Zach Bargeron allowed a single through the right side to open the frame before recording an out via a fielder's choice. The southpaw then gave way to righty Ryan Hofstrander to match-up against right-handed Delaware pinch hitter Tyler Powell. It didn't work. Hofstrander hit Powell with the first pitch, then gave up a double to catcher Ty Warrington that plated a pair and stole a potential win from Carley.

Warrington advanced to third on a throwing error before right-handed transfer Michael Bennett replaced Hofstrander and induced a groundout that scored Warrington. The damage, however, was done by then as West Virginia went to the stretch down 3-1.

The Mountaineers, which have now scored just two runs over their last 15 innings played, never truly threatened again. WVU second baseman Cody Semler reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a balk in the bottom half of the seventh before shortstop Tayler Munden struck out looking to end the frame. Both teams went in order in the eighth, WVU with the heart of its order in outfielders Bobby Boyd and Jacob Rice and first baseman Ryan McBroom. The senior, who led the team in virtually every power category last season, lined out to his Delaware counterpart as the top of the Mountaineer line-up combined for a solid four hits on 13 at-bats, but just the lone RBI because of failed base running. Luke Alicknavitch pitched the ninth for his first save.

The Mountaineers took six innings to finally break through as Rice's single scored Munden ffrom second base for a 1-0 lead headed to the seventh. Before then, it was a combination comedy or errors and frustration. Munden actually doubled down the leftfield line to start the game. He then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt, only to watch Rice and McBroom both record routine outs to the shortstop to end the inning. WVU then put runners on first and second with nobody out in the second, only to see extremely poor base running execution lead to no runs.

With designated hitter Jackson Cramer and rightfielder Shaun Wood at second and third respectively, Cramer wondered too far and was picked off by the catcher's throw to the bag. Wood, trying to gauge if he could score on the play, got too far off third and was nailed by a quick throw from second to third. The Mountaineers had another runner picked off in the third, meaning three of the first eight West Virginia outs were because of base running errors. WVU had just one hit through three, yet put three runners in scoring position – all with one out or fewer – and failed to score.

It was a difficult start after a tough opening game in which West Virginia (0-2) led No. 8 Louisville 5-1 only to lose 7-6 in 10 innings in the opener on Friday. Delaware came off an 8-1 loss to Virginia Tech earlier today. The Blue hens tallied the three runs on five hits, with just two earned. Cramer, Munden and Wood recorded multiple-hit games for the Mountaineers, who finish the weekend with a contest against host The Citadel on Sunday at 1 p.m. Junior lefthander John Means will make his season debut.

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