WVU Starts Strongly; Holds On To Down Ball St

For the second time in two days, West Virginia got off to an early 2-0 lead, but this time the Mountaineers made it hold up in a 7-6 win over Ball State on Saturday.

On Friday, WVU was blanked after its 2-0 start in a 5-2 loss to Kent State, but the Mountaineers weren't about to let that happen on Saturday. West Virginia put up five runs in the second, powered mostly by Brad Johnson's grand slam. Tucker Cascadden led off the inning with a hit, and K.C. Huth got aboard via a throwing error. Taylor Munden followed with his second RBI of the day, a single to center which plated Cascadden, and then Justin Fox loaded the bases after being hit by a pitch, which set the stage for Johnson's slam.

Ball State, in a 7-0 hole, rallied quickly. The Cardinals scored three runs in the top of the third as Ryan Spaulding and Alex Call delivered RBI doubles to power the rally. One inning later, the Cardinals added two runs off WVU starter Adam Keller, who departed after getting just one out in the fourth. That set up the appearance of reliever Jeff Hardy, who, along with Johnson and Taylor Munden, was the star of the Mountaineer show. Hardy got the next two outs to choke off the Ball State rally, then proceeded to yield just one run over the next five innings. While he did give up five hits over 5.1 pitched, he struck out three and did not walk a batter. He did uncork two wild pitches 9one of which was a strikeout that resulted in the batter reaching first, but he fired 52 strikes on 79 pitches and kept the Cardinals from producing the final hit they needed to take the lead.

West Virginia (4-4) needed every one of Hardy's gutsy pitches, because after taking that early 7-0 lead, the Mountaineers could not push any more runs across. The Mountaineers left ten runners on base, and squandered good scoring opportunities in the fifth, seventh, and eighth innings.

That set up a nervous ninth, when Ball State's Elbert Davarie was hit for the second time in the game. Pinch runner Jarrett James moved to second on Call's single, but then reliever Nick Wernke came on to get a fly ball out to seal the win.

WVU got its first two runs in the first inning when Munden led off with a home run and Fox scored on a throwing error.

In addition to Johnson, who collected four RBI on his slam, Munden also shone at the plate. He collected three hits, including the homer, and had two RBI, a walk and two runs scored. Justin Fox also crossed the plate twice after getting aboard via a hit and a hit by pitch.

West Virginia closes out its Myrtle Beach trip on Sunday with a game against Illinois. First pitch is set for 1:30 p.m., with Chad Donato again scheduled to take the mound.

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