The Jayhawks got off to a great start against Mountaineer ace Harrison Musgrave as they moved out to a 2-0 lead on Michael Suiter's home run to left. They bookended that hit with another two-run dinger in the eighth off Sean Carley, giving them a 5-3 lead that the Mountaineers could not challenge.
In the interim, Musgrave was his usual self, retiring 11 batters in a row after the homer and keeping the Jayhawks (31-21, 13-9) in check through seven innings. While Musgrave wasn't overpowering (he struck out just three) he didn't allow Kansas much solid contact as he worked into the eighth inning.
After spotting the Jayhawks the lead, West Virginia began to chip away at the lead. In the fourth, Brad Johnson singled to score Bobby Fleming, and three innings later Bobby Boyd drove home Justin Fox with a sacrifice fly to tie the score.
One inning later, the Mountaineers (27-18, 9-9) appeared to get the game winning hit when Ryan McBroom blasted an absolute bomb over the left field wall to give West Virginia a 3-2 lead. With just six outs to go, Musgrave on the mound and Sean Carley looming in the bullpen, it looked as if WVU was set to grab the opener of the series.
In the eighth, however, things went awry. Musgrave yielded a leadoff single, and although he got the next batter out, head coach Randy Mazey chose to go to Carley out of the bullpen. Carley has gone more than one inning at a time in his relief stints before, but on this night he didn't have the control or fastball that he has shown in previous appearances.
"Sean wasn't at his best tonight," Mazey told IMG College Sports. "His velocity wasn't very good."
Carley allowed a double and a home run to the first two Jayhawks he faced, turning a 3-2 lead into a 5-3 deficit, and that's where the score remained.
Despite the loss, Mazey was not overly downcast.
"We really didn't do anything to lose that game," he said on the IMG College Sports postgame. "I thought we hit their starting pitcher way harder than they hit our starting pitcher, and when you do that you usually win the game. When they needed to win the game they got extra base hits -- and one extra base hit is worth two or three singles."
Fleming and Johnson each had two hist for the Mountaineers, with Boyd, Johnson and McBroom accounting for the RBIs. Musgrave pitched 7.1 innings, allowing six hits, three walks and three earned runs while striking out three. Ryan Hostrander made his first appearance in some time, and got a groundout against the only batter he faced to end the fateful eighth.
WVU played excellent defense on the night. Twice Musgrave fielded potential sacrifice bunts and threw out the lead runner, and Taylor Munden cut down another runner at third on a force play with Jayhawks on first and second. but the defensive play of the game was turned in by Boyd, who tracked down a blast two the deepest part of the ballpark that would have scored two Kansas runners in the sixth.
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The two teams play again on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Ross Vance is scheduled to take the mound for WVU.