Unfortunately for WVU, they weren't able to avoid the effects of them all, and the result was a 4-3 loss to a very good UNLV sqaud in the middle of the Mountaineers' western road trip.
The Rebels took advantage of WVU starter Michael Bennett's lack of control in the bottom of the first. The first-time starter walked three Rebs to load the bases, but then appeared to be out of the inning when he induced a Michael Stotts pop-up to short right field with two outs. A trio of Mountaineers converged on the ball, but confusion ensued, with none making a play on it. The blooper fell in for a two-run single to give UNLV a two-run lead.
WVU cut the deficit to 2-1 in the third when Ryan McBroom singled to drive home Bobby Boyd, who was in scoring position thanks to an error. The Mountaineer center fielder was again in the spotlight two innings later when he doubled down the left field line to drive in Taylor Munden and Jackson Cramer, giving the Mountaineers a 3-2 lead.
UNLV got the tying run right back in the top of the fifth, and again walks were the key factor, Two Rebels got free passes, and the first scored on a Stotts single to center to tie things p at 3-3.
That inning closed the book on Bennett, who walked seven of the 23 batters he faced in 4 2/3 innings. He threw 92 pitches (only 46 were strikes).
The pattern was repeated in the deciding eighth inning, when the Mountaineers completed an evening of uncharacteristic self-inflicted wounds. Another two walks, coupled with an error and a wild pitch, loaded the bases, setting up J Jones' sacrifice fly to plate the winning run. Jones' hit could have cleared the bases but for a spectacular diving catch by Boyd in deep right center field.
The Mountaineer centerfielder was the star of the game, collecting four hits in five at bats, driving in two runs and stealing two bases to go along with the grab that will surely be one of the top plays of this season. McBroom added to hits and collected WVU's other RBI. The Mountaineers got little productivity from the bottom of the order outside of Justin Fox' two walks. The final five in the batting order produced just one hit on the evening.
Corey Walter pitched well in relief before being undone by the walks in the eighth. He went three innings, allowing two hits.
WVU returns to California for the final four games of the trip. They will face Cal State Northridge. WVU will play single games on Thursday and Friday and a doubleheader on Saturday before returning home.
This game, along with the late Louisville loss, might be key factors come NCAA selection time. West Virginia has built an early solid RPI based on its all-road schedule to date, but needs to win some of these contests as well. The season is just underway, and there's certainly no need to panic, but late in the season it could be looking back at these contests with some regret.
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Coming into the game, WVU had walked just 32 batters in 108 innings. the Mountaineers issued seven free passes to the Rebels in eight innings on Tuesday.
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BOyd's stellar night game him the team batting lead by a single point over Billy Fleming (.368-.367). McBroom is hitting .360, with Justin Fox (.323.) and Munden (.310) also topping the .300 mark.