Pitching, Efficient Offense Key WVU's 6-4 Win

Kyle Davis had three hits and scored twice and Shane Ennis and BJ Myers combined to allow just one run over the first six innings as West Virginia beat UT Arlington 6-4 on Wednesday.

The Mountaineers, in a third straight midweek win to start the season, used a mix of small ball and aggressive base running in plating two more runs despite both teams having eight hits. WVU (12-10) led 4-0 early, only to have UT Arlington slowly climb back into the game, culminating when the Mavericks put runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning before Blake Smith induced a pop out to catcher Cam O’Brien for his first save of the season.

Davis led an efficient offense, going 3-for-4, giving the freshman seven hits in his last 22 at-bats. Brad Johnson tallied two RBI and Justin Fox added a pair of hits, a walk and a stolen base in a prime example of the offensive stylings in his 100th career start for the Mountaineers.

UTA put the leadoff hitter on in the final six innings – and benefitted from nine walks – but left 11 on base as five West Virginia pitchers combined for the victory. Ennis, in his first career start, worked into the fourth inning, exiting with a 4-0 lead after loading the bases on a leadoff double and two walks. Myers entered and induced a huge 5-2 double play when Fox stepped on third and threw home to O’Brien, who applied the tag.

Myers then got a comebacker to end the threat and leave Ennis with a shutout and a no decision in lowering his ERA from the 1.12 mark he had after five appearances this season. Ennis, scheduled to start in a cancelled midweek game with Liberty two weeks ago, finished with three innings pitched, allowing no runs on two hits and striking out four with one walk.

Myers, via two walks, got into trouble in the fifth inning, but got out of the two-on, one-out jam allowing just one run on two fly outs to centerfield as West Virginia carried a 4-1 lead into the sixth as he picked up the victory to improve to 2-1. The Mountaineers got the run back in the bottom half when Ray Guerrini drove in Davis on a double for his 13th RBI of the season and a 5-1 advantage.

That caused another pitching change as UT Arlington (12-11) went to its third reliever of the game as newcomer Jake Wilcox replaced Justin Schnedler. Guerrini stole third on the freshman, but was stranded on a strikeout and fly out to end the sixth inning. WVU then went ahead 6-1 in the seventh when Johnson singled home Cramer before Arlington trimmed the score to 6-2 on back-to-back doubles, signaling the end for Myers. Ross Vance, roughed up in his last outing on Saturday against Baylor for eight runs on as many hits in the loss, came in and gave up a walk and single down the right field line for a 6-3 game going to the eighth inning. The Mavs scored one run off Smith in the ninth for the final margin.

West Virginia went ahead 1-0 in the first inning when Fox singled and stole second before a walk to Cramer and a wild pitch put runners at second and third. Fox then scored on Johnson’s sac fly to center. The Mountaineers added a pair of runs in the second inning when O’Brien and Guerrini led off with a walk and hit by pitch, respectively, before advancing on a sac bunt. That set up Caleb Potter’s RBI groundout to third, which ended up plating a pair on a throwing error for a 3-0 WVU lead.

Shaun Wood, which hit a grand slam on Tuesday against Stephen F. Austin, executed a suicide squeeze to score Davis in the top of the fourth for a 4-0 game. The four runs came on just three hits, two in that fourth inning, as the Mountaineers mixed small ball and aggressive base running to gain the early edge.

UTA starter Reid Petty (0-1) lasted just one inning in taking the loss after allowing three runs, two earned, on a single hit due to two walks and a hit batsman. UT Arlington was paced by two hits from second baseman Darien McLemore and three walks and a hit from leadoff hitter Matt McLean. Four other players each had an RBI for the Mavericks, which just came off a loss to Baylor on Tuesday.

West Virginia now plays host to Charleston Southern in a three-game weekend series at Consol Energy Park in Washington, Pa. after finishing the five-game Texas road swing at 3-2. Friday’s first pitch is at noon; the relief appearances of Myers and Vance in this game mean head coach Randy Mazey might change his weekend rotation, though neither pitcher threw enough to completely limit them for the entire series versus Charleston Southern, 11-11 entering today’s game against NC Central.

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