Pitching Leads WVU to 6-3 Win Over Pitt

Just two days after exiting Sunday's game against UNC Wilmington after just 1.2 innings, redshirt senior Zach Bargeron was ready for redemption.

He got what he wanted when West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey called on him to get the ball to start out against Pittsburgh in Tuesday's home opener at Hawley Field, and Bargeron answered the call.

The Manassas, Va., native threw five innings, allowed just one run on four hits while striking out three and walking two Panther hitters to pick up his first win of the season in a 6-3 WVU victory.

"Any time you have an outing like that, you just want to erase it as fast as you can," Bargeron said after the win. "Getting the opportunity to pitch today really helped out."

Heading into its first conference series of the season, West Virginia (13-8) didn't have to worry about using too many pitchers Tuesday as Bargeron and junior right-handed pitcher Michael Bennett took the game over by bouncing back from rough outings.

For Bennett, that tough outing came in his first start as a Mountaineer when he went 4.2 innings and walked seven batters in a 4-3 loss.

"My confidence was pretty low (after the UNLV game), but this was a big confidence booster for me," Bennett said. "This is big for us because we have a big series coming up and we're going to need all of our guys fresh. Me and Zach need to do this all the time."

As important as it was for Mazey and the Mountaineers to save bullpen arms heading into the weekend series against Baylor, it was even more significant with the cold weather on the 32-degree afternoon in Morgantown.

But even with the weather not on their side, WVU was able to come up with enough timely hitting down the stretch to ensure the victory in the 187th meeting between the two rivals.

"Based on what we go through here with travel and all the adversity, any time we have a day like this, we feel like it favors us," Mazey said. "We welcome adversity because we teach them how to overcome adversity and they're really good at it. When there are adverse conditions, it's an advantage for the Mountaineers."

After Pittsburgh got on the board first when a sacrifice fly by Boo Vazquez scored Stephen Vranka, the Mountaineers countered with a run of their own in the bottom half of the first inning by capitalizing on a Pitt fielding error that helped score Taylor Munden on a Billy Fleming grounder to second base.

A two-run single by Shaun Wood in the third inning and an RBI single by Munden in the sixth gave WVU a 4-1 lead and plenty of cushion as Bargeron and Bennett got momentum going.

Following an Eric Hess single off Bargeron in the fourth inning, the next 15 batters to step up to the plate for Pitt failed to record a hit. The two Mountaineer pitchers would issue three walks during that time, but it wasn't until a two-run home run by Casey Roche that the Panthers were able to get back into the hit column, as well as the game, and cut the Mountaineer lead to 4-3 when WVU came up to bat in the bottom half of the eighth inning.

But after two quick outs put WVU in a hole, it was able to get the insurance runs it needed to seal the game with back-to-back RBI singles by Bobby Boyd and Billy Fleming to give Bennett a three-run lead for his final inning to secure the save.

"We had some opportunities to put it away in the middle of the game but we didn't do it, but the top of our order is pretty good," Mazey said. "That's normally how we roll and when those guys come up with men on base and teams can't pitch around them, that's how we score runs."

Bennett allowed just one hit in his four innings of work with two strikeouts and a walk. Munden went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI to lead the Mountaineers offensively, while first baseman Ryan McBroom continued his stellar season at the plate by recording three hits in his five at bats.

The Mountaineers will play a three-game series against Baylor in Charleston starting Friday at 2 p.m.

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