Baylor Sics Vance Early, WVU Loses 10-4

Ross Vance was chased early and West Virginia stranded a dozen runners as the Mountaineers lost 10-4 at Baylor on Saturday to drop a second consecutive Big 12 road series to start the conference schedule.

WVU got runners on base in seven of the nine innings – including loading them twice – but managed just four runs as the line-up lacked the clutch hit while recording seven overall. That, combined with the worst outing of the season for Vance, led to an easy series win for Baylor, which picked up a second straight victory over the Mountaineers and a third consecutive win after losing 10 in a row. It was West Virginia’s second straight Big 12 road series loss to open the conference schedule, and puts the Mountaineers (9-10, 1-4) in seventh place ahead of just Kansas State and Kansas, who have yet to play a league game.

West Virginia had a prime opportunity to blow the game open in the top off the first inning when Baylor starter Austin Stone issued four walks and a hit by pitch to load the bases and push two runs across without a hit. Stone retired just two hitters before being pulled for reliever Kody Hessemer (1-0), who retired Shan Corso on a full count strikeout with the bases loaded and two down to end the inning. The lack of ability to capitalize hurt West Virginia in the bottom half, as Baylor opened the game with two singles before moving both runners into scoring position on third baseman Justin Fox’s throwing error.

That put a struggling Vance in a jam, and the lefty wasn’t able to escape in surrendering a single and double to the next two hitters to trail 3-2. Baylor added two more runs off an infield single, a fielding error by Fox and a triple to push the edge to 5-2. The six hits were the most allowed by Vance in any inning this season, and set an ominous tone early as the Bears scored three more times two innings later to push the lead back to 8-4 after WVU had cut it to one.

Vance went just three innings, allowing all eight runs, six earned, in giving up eight hits in 18 batters faced as his ERA went to 4.08 after entering at 2.78. All but two players in the BU line-up had amassed a hit by the fourth inning, while the Mountaineers continued to get runners on without scoring. After doubles by Jackson Cramer and Justin Fox and a single by Shaun Wood cut Baylor’s lead to 5-4 in the top of the third, WVU went six straight innings with at least one runner, yet failed to score in leaving 12 on base through the first eight innings. BU, conversely, continued to add on, scoring a run in the seventh on a back-to-back single and double for a 9-4 lead and adding another insurance run in the eighth.

Once Ross (2-2) exited, West Virginia relied on midweek starter BJ Myers, who worked into the eighth and allowed just one more run. Myers, who started against Akron on Tuesday, was pulled early in that contest as WVU jumped to a big lead so that he could be used in long relief as needed in this series. Myers threw 70 pitches, 41 for strikes, against Baylor, so his availability for the initial upcoming midweek game at Stephen F. Austin on Tuesday is questionable.

West Virginia loaded the bases in the eighth inning, but couldn’t score as Cramer grounded out to second. The Mountaineers then went in order in the ninth as Baylor (9-13, 2-3) moved ahead of WVU into sixth place. Cramer and Fox each had two hits, with Fox having two RBI and a double. Wood had the other two RBI. Five Baylor players had at least two hits, with first baseman Mitch Price and right fielder Kameron Esthay with three apiece. Price tallied three RBI, two doubles and a pair of runs scored out of his clean-up spot.

The series continues Sunday at 2 p.m. eastern. WVU will throw sophomore right-hander Chad Donato (2-3, 1.74 ERA). Baylor head coach Steve Smith counters with sophomore right-hander Drew Tolson (0-4, 4.45 ERA). The game will be on Fox Sports Southwest.

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