The Mountaineers' win wasn't anything resembling a Sesame Street production, though. A masterful pitching performance by John Means (eight innings) and a five-run outburst in the first inning (one) were the highlights as WVU took the first game of the three-game set in Norman, Okla.
West Virginia got off to a blistering start against starter Corey Copping in the top of the first, aided by a pair of Oklahoma mental errors. Taylor Munden led off with an infield hit, and Bobby Boyd got aboard when his bunt was fielded by first baseman Kolbey Carpenter, who checked on Munden before throwing to first. His delayed attempt was too late to get Boyd, and Billy Fleming promptly capitalized with a run scoring single to left. Jacob Rice then ripped a double down the line to push the lead to 3-0.
WVU wasn't done yet, as Sean Wood singled and Cam O'Brien grounded out to bring Rice home. OU then contributed to WVU's fifth run, as a sharp Jackson Cramer single to left gave Sooner Hunter Haley plenty of time to make a throw to the plate. The throw was cut off, however, and the relay was too late to get Wood, resulting in a 5-0 Mountaineer lead.
Thus supported, Means turned in yet another excellent pitching performance. At times, it's difficult to come up with the exact adjective to describe his work. He's not overpowering, and he did allow eight baserunners in the game, but at no time was there a feeling that he was in danger of getting knocked out. Time after time, he made excellent pitches when OU threatened to score, and he showed excellent control of both his fastball and curve in staying ahead of Sooner hitters.
"Means went deep into the game, and he was getting outs early in the pitch count," head coach Randy Mazey told IMG Sports after the game. "He was anything but rusty. That's as good as I've ever seen John Means pitch."
On the evening, Means gave up seven hits (all singles) and issued just one walk, but didn't allow the Sooners to string together hits. He was also well supported by the Mountaineer defense, which turned three double plays to help erase a trio of OU baserunners. Means struck out six OU batters, and was extremely efficient, throwing 88 pitches.
Oklahoma's most serious threat came in the sixth, when it put runners on second and thrid with one out. However, Means again came up big, striking out Joshua Ake for the second out and snaring a sharp comebacker with a no-look grab before tossing the ball to first to end the inning.
WVU added single runs in the sixth and ninth to provide even more breathing room for the Mountaineers. Those runs doubtless contributed to the decision to lift Means after eight innings. Ryan Tezak came on to throw a scoreless ninth, and also benefited from a double play (West Virginia's fourth of the game) to end the game.
WVU piled up 16 hits in the contest, with Boyd, Fleming and Cramer all collecting three safeties. Fleming, Rice and Cramer each had two RBI for the Mountaineers.
Game two of the three-game series is set for Friday night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time. The starting pitch match-up will be a battle of lefties, as Harrison Musgrave will get the start for WVU against Oklahoma's Adam Choplick.
The only negative for West Virginia on the evening was its performance on the basepaths. Mountaineer baserunners were 0-3 on steal attempts and also suffered a pickoff.
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Rice and Ryan McBroom had the only extra base hits in the game, as each had a double down the left field line.
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The game was played at a snappy pace, finishing in just two hours and 10 minutes.