WVU Takes Down Tigers Again

A combination of solid pitching, timely hitting and key defensive plays led West Virginia to a 6-1 win over 24th-ranked Clemson of the ACC on Sunday. The result gave the Mountaineers a 2-1 series win over the Tigers.

On Saturday, West Virginia (2-1) committed a pair of key errors and a baserunning mistake, which allowed the Tigers to escape with a 4-2 win. On Sunday, the Mountaineers were outstanding in the field, turning double plays in three consecutive innings and picking a Clemson runner off in another to cut down several scoring threats. Coupled with another steady pitching performance from starter Chad Donato and relievers Adam Keller and Conner Dotson, the Mountaineers took the second game of the weekend from the 24th-rated Tigers.

WVU got on the board first with its second home run of the season in the second when Shaun Corso cleared the 360-foot sign in left centerfield by no more than a foot. The Mountaineers followed with three runs in the fifth, aided by a Clemson (1-2) throwing error on a Justin Fox sacrifice bunt attempt with runners on first and second. The wild throw down the first base line scored Brad Johnson and put Jackson Cramer on third and Fox on second. A Kyle Davis groundout and a Ray Guerrini single brought home two more runs to give the Mountaineers a solid 4-0 lead.

Meanwhile, West Virginia starter Chad Donato (1-0), making his first-ever such appearance for the Mountaineers, stayed calm despite a handful of Clemson scoring threats. The first of those came in the fourth, when a walk and a single put Tigers on first and third with one out. Playing in the finest tradition of #MazeyBall, Donato faked a throw to third and threw to first, which caught runner Steve Duggar off base. Initially, third base umpire Brandon Henson called a balk, which would have tied the game and erased the out. However, after a lengthy conference, the crew reversed the decision, upholding the tag of Duggar for out number two. Donato followed by getting a strikeout one batter later to end the inning.

Two innings later, West Virginia's defense entered the fray. After Donato gave up a hit to start the sixth, a 4-6-3 twin-killing erased the early threat. Again the timing was propitious, as Tyler Krieger followed with another hit that would have scored a run. Instead, Donato closed out his stint with a fly ball out to preserve the 4-0 lead.

In the seventh, West Virginia added a run on back-to-back doubles by Kyle Davis and K.C. Huth, and appeared to be in need of them all when Clemson put its first two runners aboard in the bottom of the frame. Reliever Adam Keller came on and yielded an RBI single, but then induced a grounder to third, where Justin Fox pounced, stepped on third, and threw to second for a double play. WVU nearly recorded the rare around-the-horn triple play, as the throw on to first missed getting Andrew Cox by a step or so. The erasing of the two lead runners was again vital, as another hit put runners on first and second, but Keller, again forcing a grounder, got another to second to end the inning.

WVU immediately got the run back when Brad Johnson tripled and was driven home by Shaun Corso's RBI single, and shut down things in the bottom of the eighth with a double play in its third consecutive inning, this time erasing Clemson big hitters Tyler Krieger and Steven Duggar with an inning-ender.

The Mountaineers then turned to Conner Dotson for the ninth, and he turned in a clean 1-2-3 showing to send WVU back home with the unforeseen series win.

WVU did much of its offensive damage at the bottom of the order. Of the first five hitters, only Taylor Munden, with two singles, had more than one hit, but that was more than made up for by Corso, Davis, Guerrini and KC Huth, who combined for seven hits, including two doubles and a home run, and all five Mountaineer RBI.

WVU pitchers did yield ten hits in the game, but showed excellent composure when put under duress. Donato went six-plus innings and allowed seven hits and a single walk while striking out five, while Keller battled out of the two-on, no-out situation in the seventh to yield just one run (charged to Donato). Keller gave up three hits but kept the ball down, as he recorded six outs on four ground balls. Dotson, in his first appearance, built confidence with a strikeout to end a perfect ninth inning.

All was not perfect for WVU, which did strand at least one runner on base in every inning (14 total), but getting them aboard is half the battle in scoring, and head coach Randy Mazey had to be pleased with that part of the offense.

WVU travels to Georgia Southern next Fri-Sun for another weekend series, with the first game scheduled for 6;00 PM on Friday. The Eagles (3-0) swept Bethune-Cookman in a three game series this weekend and play Georgia Tech on Tuesday before hosting the Mountaineers. WVU is expected to again go with BJ Myers as the Friday starter. Myers dealt the Mountaineers a 2-0 win over the Tigers in the series opener. The Eagles won 40 games last year

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