Vance Throws Gem to Lead WVU Over Buckeyes

In the second inning of Tuesday night's 4-1 victory against Ohio State, first-time starting pitcher Ross Vance had hit a batter with the bases loaded and just one out.

It was a situation that, in most situations as a reliever throughout the early portion of the season, head coach Randy Mazey would have gotten a player warming up in the bullpen or given him the hook.

But in Vance's first start as a Mountaineer, he let him settle into a bit of a groove.

"That's the kind of stuff he's been doing in relief," Mazey said. "When you're a relief pitcher, with the game on the line, and you do that, you've got to take him out. But as a starter you have to let him settle in a little bit, and once he settled in he was really, really good today."

Vance would get out of that jam with back-to-back strikeouts before going on to retire the next six batters he faced before cruising the rest of the way to one of West Virginia's best pitching performances of the season. The redshirt sophomore from McKinney, Texas, twirled a gem against the Buckeyes - throwing a complete game, allowing eight hits while giving up just one run and walking only one hitter.

He also struck out 14 Ohio State hitters, a team record this season surpassing Harrison Musgrave's 12 strikeouts against Duke on Feb. 28.

"I felt comfortable from the very beginning," Vance said. "I've started my whole life so I felt comfortable, it felt like I was much more in my element."

The performance led to a much-needed win that came at a perfect time for a Mountaineer team that was struggling more than it ever had since Mazey took over at WVU. West Virginia entered the game on a seven-game losing streak and is only half a game ahead of Kansas State for the No. 8 spot in the nine-team Big 12 Conference.

And it wasn't just Vance's pitching that led the way for the Mountaineers. WVU was able to get some timely hitting when it needed to in order to jump out to that three-run lead that the southpaw was able to keep in tact for the remainder of the game.

In the bottom of the second, after Vance was able to get out of a jam, the Mountaineers were able to get a rally going of their own.

Ryan McBroom led off the inning with a double off the wall before Max Nogay was able to crush a 2-1 pitch over the left field wall for a two-run home run that gave WVU the lead for good.

"That was a big help getting those guys behind me," Vance said. "Max's home run in the second was a big help. It showed me they had my back right off the bat."

West Virginia got two more runs in the third on RBI singles by McBroom and Jacob Rice to give Vance plenty of cushion the rest of the way.

Now WVU will have some momentum as it heads into this weekend's series on the road against Oklahoma.

"This is big. We're next to the bottom in the Big 12 right now," Mazey said. "The Big 12's a big, jumbled mess like we knew it was going to be. Whoever wins this series can be right back at the top, and it's going to be like that the whole way."

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