Stifled

San Diego State scored in each of the first three innings, taking a 4-0 lead and chasing West Virginia starter John Means after just 59 pitches as the Aztecs took the weekend series with a 7-3 win on Sunday.

Means, who entered off a dominant victory over The Citadel to give WVU its first win of the season a week ago, managed to get through just nine outs as he walked three and allowed three doubles and a triple against a surging San Diego State offense that scored seven-plus runs for the third time in seven games. The lefthander was hurt by the free passes and a defense that continued to struggle with its fourth error in two games, including a key one by rightfielder Sean Wood that allowed two runs in the second inning.

Means was in trouble from the start, allowing a pair of four-pitch walks around third baseman Ty Frances' double down the leftfield line to fall behind 1-0 in the first. Means got out of that jam largely unscathed, inducing a groundout to leave the bases loaded. But the Aztecs again struck with two outs in the second, plating a pair of runs after a triple and a walk when Wood dropped a fly ball for the probable third out.

Means, trailing 3-1 with a rising pitch count, was again burned by France in the third, the five-hitter slicing an 0-1 offering to left for a leadoff double. France, who finished three for three with three doubles and three RBI, scored after consecutive groundouts to put the Mountaineers in a 4-0 hole and finish Means outing.

The junior fell behind in the count against nine of his 17 batters faced and allowed four extra base hits in three innings pitched. Means (1-1), who went six strong against The Citadel, scattering five hits, was forced to the fastball on routine 3-0 and 3-1 counts, and could never hone his control as little more than 50 percent of his pitches (31 of 59) were strikes.

SDSU starter Mark Seyler, meanwhile, pitched a gem, allowing just two runs on seven hits in picking up his second win in as many games started. He racked up seven strikeouts against one walk over his seven innings. The right-hander pounded the zone with 70 strikes in 95 pitches and gave up just one extra base hit in 28 at-bats in lowering his ERA from 5.40 to 3.95.

The sophomore – initially expected to pitch out of the bullpen this season – was in trouble just once when WVU's Billy Fleming and Jacob Rice sandwiched a single and double, respectively, between Ryan McBroom's pop out. That left two on with one out for Wood, who singled to right to score Fleming. Cramer cut the deficit in half one pitch later, drilling a shot through the right side for a 4-2 game. Righthander Ryan Tezak held the Mountaineers in the game over the next two innings, and West Virginia had a major opportunity in the fifth when McBroom came up with two on and two outs. The clean-up hitter went on down three straight strikes to end the threat, however, and none of the next six WVU hitters could manage to get the ball out of the infield as Seyler finished strong, striking out six of his last nine batters faced.

The Aztecs (5-2) tagged on two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth for the final margin as Michael Cederoth got the final four outs for his first save of the season. McBroom's sacrifice fly in the 8th scored for his team-best 10th RBI scored Boyd for the only other Mountaineer run. West Virginia had 10 hits, but never the key one. It tallied just one extra base hit and one walk against nine strikeouts one game after putting up just a single run in 10 innings in a 2-1 defeat. The Mountaineers (2-4) have scored three or fewer runs in half of their six games this season.

Fleming, Rice and Wood had two hits each, and the top seven hitters in the line-up reached base at least once. But, once again, West Virginia couldn't convert runners into runs, stranding seven – and 13 in the last two games of the series – to drop its initial three-game set of the schedule after winning the opener. SDSU had 12 hits, three by France, with five doubles and a triple. A crowd of 619 attended.

West Virginia plays a three-game set in Myrtle Beach, S.C. next weekend against Duke, Coastal Carolina and James Madison.


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