Mountaineers Take Fifth Straight

West Virginia hit UC Riverside with a right hook. The Highlanders never fully recovered.

Sean Carley chased ace Harrison Musgrave's first-game gem with one of his own, stymying UCR over seven innings as WVU won 2-1 on the road for its fifth straight victory. The Mountaineers, behind yet another exceptional performance from Musgrave, beat Sacramento State 8-1 in the first game of its doubleheader. This one lacked the overwhelming dominance, but flashed Carley's focus as the righthander threw seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits with four walks, three strikeouts and a lone extra base hit.

That set up the Mountaineer bullpen as Ross Vance and Pascal Paul combined to get the final six outs – though not without some tense moments. Nursing a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the 9th, Paul retired two consecutive pinch hitters before Riverside sandwiched a pair of singles around a walk to cut the deficit in half. With the tying run in scoring position, and the winning run on base, Paul struck out rightfielder David Andriese on a 2-2 pitch to end it and give the much-maligned pen its second save of the season.

Carley was exceptional through five innings, allowing just a single baserunner to third while leaving more than one runner just once. But, approaching the 75-pitch mark in the 6th inning, Carley issued consecutive walks before showcasing why head coach Randy Mazey calls him his most gritty hurler. The 6-4, 245-pounder induced a 6-4-3 double play, then bore down to find the zone with an enormous 1-2 pitch strikeout to strand the runner. WVU went in order in the top half, and Carley, at 83 pitches, showed his mettle again by coming out for the seventh.

Carley (2-0) finished stronger than what he started, throwing strikes on eight of his first 10 pitches in his last inning. The junior got the first two hitters before his own error allowed a baserunner. He then gave up a single to right, putting runners on first and second at the 97-pitch mark. Carley then prototypically dug deep enough to induce first baseman Francisco Tellez's groundout to short to end the threat and close his book with exactly 100 pitches thrown. Carley retired the side in order just once, but was never truly threatened until the sixth. Vance and Paul held in the eighth, leaving a pair at second and third, and Paul got out of the jam in the ninth for his first save.

West Virginia (7-4) scored runs in the third and ninth, the later the very definition of an insurance run that was immediately cashed. Sean Wood and Taylor Munden singled, putting runners at the corners with one out. Munden then stole second in arguably the most underrated play of the game, as Bobby Boyd chased the steal with a groundout to first base that scored Wood for the 2-0 edge. If Munden doesn't take the base, Riverside has a chance to turn two, end the inning and leave the game a single run affair. WVU plated its lone other run when Munden doubled and scored on Billy Fleming's single for the 1-0 lead in the third.

Munden went 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored. Catcher Cameron O'Brien also had two hits, while five others chipped in one in a decisively defensive battle. Devyn Bolasky had three hits in four at-bats for UCR and Nick Vilter chipped in two hits, including a double to lead the Highlanders (7-7). UCR starter Ben Douchette (0-2) allowed just the lone earned run while scattering six hits while striking out four in the loss. The lefthander, who entered with a 7.59 ERA in his first three starts, pitched better than he has all season in a 93-pitch outing.

West Virginia figures to continue its rotational set-up by throwing lefthander John Means against Riverside in the final match-up of the weekend. First pitch is 8 p.m. Eastern. The Highlanders have not announced a starter. That time does reflect the beginning of Daylight Savings Time on Sunday at 2 a.m.

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