Vance Hurls WVU Past Terps

Ross Vance threw six innings of one-run ball for a second straight excellent start and Bobby Boyd and Brad Johnson combined for seven RBI to lead West Virginia past Maryland 14-2 at Hawley Field on Tuesday.

Vance, who limited a hot Ohio State team to just one run in his first career victory a week ago, mixed exceptional fastball location with a solid breaking ball and decent change-up to hold Maryland to just one run and three hits over six full innings. The sophomore struck out six while walking one in reaching 13 consecutive shutout innings pitched dating to the OSU win.

However, unlike in the complete-game 4-1 decision over the Buckeyes, Vance (2-0) was backed by plenty of offense as the Mountaineers racked up 16 total hits in its largest margin of victory since a 20-6 win over Eastern Michigan on March 22, 2011. Boyd went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and four RBI, including a three-run homer in the fifth inning off starter Tayler Stiles that easily cleared the right field wall for a 6-0 lead. That deciding blow came after Johnson's damage. The right fielder raised his average to .400, going 2-for-3 with the first three RBI of the game before being removed to give Shaun Wood some at-bats down the stretch.

West Virginia scored in five of its eight innings at the plate, and got multi-hit games from seven players, including Boyd, Johnson and a 3-for-4 effort with three runs scored and an RBI from third baseman Michael Constantini. Catcher Cam O'Brien went 2-for-5 with 2 RBI and a run scored. Pascal Paul, much maligned out of the bullpen earlier this season, threw scoreless seventh and eighth innings before Joby Lapkowicz shut the door in the ninth as WVU (20-16) claimed its fourth win in five games after a seven-game skid. It was the Mountaineers' fifth win in as many games over ACC foes this season.

Perhaps the most impressive display came from Johnson. The right-handed hitter, quickly establishing himself as among WVU's better mixes of power and contact, gave the Mountaineers a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a double off the base of the wall in left center. That scored Ryan McBroom from first after the first baseman drew a walk. A passed ball then moved Johnson to third, where he was stranded on a failed two-strike squeeze bunt by designated hitter Max Nogay and a strikeout of Cam O'Brien. That setback didn't seem to hurt the confidence of Johnson or the Mountaineers, as they extended the edge to 3-0 in an eerily similar fashion in the fourth inning when Johnson singled to center through a drawn-in middle infield. That plated McBroom and Jacob Rice after they reached on a double and single, respectively, and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.

Both of Johnson's hits were solidly belted, showcasing the ever-increasing comfort at the plate after, as head coach Randy Mazey noted, the junior was able to settle himself and approach at-bats with a more calm, confident demeanor.

Boyd, meanwhile, continued his tear, as his blow for the 6-0 lead signaled the end for Stiles (2-2), who entered with a 2.55 ERA, but left with one at 4.08 after retiring just 12 of 20 batters faced with all six WVU runs earned. Reliever Jared Price didn't fare much better, as West Virginia ripped the sacrificial right-hander for five runs, all earned, over just one complete inning for an 11-0 lead after six innings. Maryland (24-15), which had won two of three in a weekend series against Georgia Tech, got two of its seven hits from short stop Blake Schmit.

WVU matched its previous season high in runs scored in the 14-11 win at Cal State Northridge on March 15. In the fifth inning, Maryland third baseman Jose Cuas was injured on the sharp single by Constantini that hit off his right knee to open the inning. Cuas, who leads the team with five home runs and 29 RBI, immediately came up limping and was attended to by team trainers for five minutes before leaving. Mike Rescigno replaced him at third.

West Virginia plays host to Marshall on Wednesday. The Thundering Herd (18-20, 8-9 Conference USA) come off a four-game sweep of West Virginia Tech. Freshman outfielder Corey Bird hits at a .288 clip; junior infielder TJ Diffenderfer leads the team with two home runs and 20 RBI. Neither team has announced a starter.

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