Baseball Routs Sacramento State

Excellence is merely the norm with Harrison Musgrave.

The West Virginia ace put together his third consecutive quality start this season, scattering three hits with six strikeouts over as many shutout innings as the Mountaineers beat Sacramento State 8-1 on Saturday for their fourth straight win. Musgrave (3-0), who has not allowed a run in 16 innings pitched, no-hit Duke into the 7th in a 3-1 victory his last outing, and preceded that with an eight-strikeout mastery of San Diego State.

He was almost as brilliant today, recording nine flyouts and three groundouts in 76 pitches. Musgrave didn't pound the zone as well as he did against the Blue Devils, but never walked a batter while giving up just one extra base hit, a harmless double that led to nothing for a Sacramento State team that seemed to be showing life after scoring at least five runs in two of their last four games. Musgrave, however, snuffed the line-up, mixing the fastball and devastating changeup with timely curves that retired the first eight hitters and 12 of the first 13 into the fifth inning.

By then, the visiting Mountaineers had a 5-0 lead mostly via a three-run second inning spearheaded by Ryan McBroom and Justin Fox. McBroom, WVU's first baseman, finished 2-of-3 with two RBI and a run scored; Fox went 3-of-5 with two doubles, three RBI and two runs scored as the cornerstones paced an offense that amassed 11 hits while leaving as many on base. McBroom hit a towering leadoff solo homer in the second before Fox doubled down the leftfield line two batters later. That played Jacob Rice after he reached on a bunt and stole second. Fox scored for a 3-0 lead off Taylor Munden's double, also down the left field line as the Mountaineers began to routinely pull the fastball of righthander Brennan Leitao (1-2).

WVU (6-4) added a pair in the fifth as McBroom and Rice recorded RBI. That gave Musgrave a comfortable lead, and the junior cruised before giving way in the 7th inning to a bullpen that struggled early in the season, but seems to have found a groove over the last two series. Ryan Hostrander and Michael Bennett combined over the last three innings to secure the win. Leitao entered with a 3.00 ERA in three starts, but saw that balloon after all five of his runs were earned over six innings. He allowed seven hits, striking out three and issuing two walks. He hit three batters and threw a wild pitch as eight different Mountaineers recorded base hits.

WVU, playing its fourth game already this season in the state of California, blew the game open with three runs in the seventh – all with two outs. After Billy Fleming and McBroom flied out, Rice and Trevor Simms both reached and stole second. Simms' single plated Rice before Fox singled to score Simms for a 7-0 lead. Fox later scored three batters later on a bases loaded walk for the final margin. Sacramento State (7-8) was led by catcher Dane Fujinaka's two hits, including a double. He also walked. The Hornets have now lost two in a row and three of four.

The Mountaineers conclude the doubleheader at 8 p.m. against host UC Riverside (6-6), which will throw righthander Ben Doucette (0-1). Doucette has a 7.59 ERA in three starts with eight strikeouts in 10.2 innings. Third baseman Nick Vilter leads the Highlanders with a .429 batting average, two doubles, one triple, six homers and 15 RBIs. The two teams will play again Sunday at 8 p.m. as the Mountaineers finish the first leg of an eight-game road trip over WVU's spring break.

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