WVU Runs Out Of Offense, Drops First Game 5-2

West Virginia’s base running mistakes combined with an excellent start from Kent State’s Nick Jenson-Clagg led to a 5-2 defeat for the Mountaineers in the first game of a doubleheader on Friday.

WVU, in losing a second straight game and its third in four, trailed just 3-2 in the sixth inning when Brad Johnson and Shaun Wood reached to set up a two-on, one-out situation against the right-hander. But Johnson was picked off by Jenson-Clagg before catcher Jeff Revesz caught Wood leaning off first a play later to end the threat. It was the best chance the cold-hitting Mountaineers would get against the junior, who worked six innings, allowing two earned runs and five hits against just 22 batters – or four more than the minimum.

A major cause of that was West Virginia’s base running execution, which was as poor as it has ever been under third-year head coach Randy Mazey after a first inning in which it went ahead 2-0 on Brad Johnson’s RBI double. That was set-up by the same aggressiveness that would later bite back, as Munden singled and stole second before Justin Fox drew a walk. Johnson then delivered the double to left center, and it appeared the Mountaineers (3-4) would continue to attack the Kent State pitching and defense when Johnson swiped third before being stranded after a pair of strikeouts.

From then on, however, Jenson-Clagg (2-1) combined with two relievers to hold WVU scoreless, as the Mountaineers took themselves out of five outs with the two pick offs, two caught stealings and a batter’s interference call. West Virginia managed just six hits a game after getting beat 15-2 at Georgia Southern to drop the series and has now been shutout in 11 of the last 12 innings.

Kent State answered the early 2-0 lead with run in the bottom of the first inning on a bloop double after a single and steal. The Flashes (3-4) threatened more before starter B.J. Myers recorded a huge strikeout to strand two runners. The teams then went scoreless until Kent State strung together three consecutive hits, including a double, after two outs in the fourth inning to take a 3-2 lead. The key blow was the two-RBI single by Zach Beckner, which gave Jensen-Clagg a one-run edge after the right-hander had settled to pepper the zone early in the count. He threw 98 pitches, 52 strikes, and forced the Mountaineers to put the ball in play, something WVU wasn’t able to do as just three players managed a hit other than Johnson’s 3-for-4 performance with the two RBI. Besides Johnson, the first six hitters in the order combined for a 1-for17 performance with five strikeouts, including two to end the game as Zach Willeman picked up his first save of the season.

Revesz added a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 4-2 Kent State lead, and that signaled the end for Jenson-Clagg, pulled for reliever Dan Kopcak, which immediately set the Mountaineers down in order, including a strikeout of Ray Guerrini, who replaced Garrett Hope at catcher as Mazey tried to push any button that might work. Mazey pulled Myers (0-1) in the seventh, the freshman having worked a solid six innings, scattering 11 hits with four runs, all earned, on 78 pitches (49 strikes) as his ERA reached 4.20. Right-hander Jackson Sigman, a transfer from Glendale Community College, made his third appearance of the season and allowed a walk to Luke Burch before consecutive steals led to Sawyer Polen’s sac fly for the final 5-2 margin.

Five different players had multi-hit games for the Flashes, and six of their starters now have an average of .300 or better. Kent State advanced to 20-10 all-time versus West Virginia; the last meeting prior to this was in 2004 when the Flashes won 15-10 in ten innings in Morgantown.

Senior left-hander Ross Vance (1-1) will start the back half of the doubleheader, against Coastal Carolina at 4 p.m.. Vance allowed three runs on eight hits with nine strikeouts and one walk in 6.1 innings in WVU’s lone win over Georgia Southern last weekend. Coastal Carolina counters with right-hander Alex Cunningham, who is 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in two starts this season. Infielder Connor Owings leads the Chanticleers with a .391 batting average, with a double, two homeruns and nine RBI.

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