West Virginia Pounds Out 17 Hits, Three Home Runs In Fourth Consecutive Victory

Ross Vance scattered three hits over seven innings and West Virginia scored in six different frames in a 13-1 win at UNLV on Saturday.

Vance mixed his trademark slider and change-up with an accurate fastball to keep the Rebels off balance. The lefty struck out eight - including six over the first nine hitters - while allowing just one earned run. Vance was able to drop his slider for a strike as needed, then expand the zone by making it look like a strike before the pitch dove outside the zone. It thoroughly confused UNLV, which finished with just four hits overall.

The Mountaineers (4-1) had no such issues, pounding out 17 hits and tagging UNLV starter Dean Kremer for six runs, five earned, before tacking on seven additional runs against the bullpen. KC Huth scored three times and had three hits, including an RBI single and a home run off the left field scoreboard. Kyle Davis and Darius Hill also had multi-hit games from the lead off and two spots, with Davis hitting his second home run of the series.

Hill, who had three hits - including a triple and home run - along with four RBI in the series opening win, stayed red hot with another three hits to go with three RBI and two runs scored. The freshman is hitting .666 with seven RBI and three extra base hits in the two games against UNLV. Fellow newcomer Cole Austin went 2-for-4 with 4 RBI along with his first career home run, a three-run shot to left field to put West Virginia ahead 12-1 in the eighth inning.

In truth, the Mountaineers had continually added on to back Vance (2-0), whose ERA dropped to 0.75 after allowing just one run over 12 innings pitched thus far. WVU scored two runs in the 3rd, 5th and 6th innings, and blew the game open with a five-run 8th inning. The Mountaineers also added single runs in the 7th and 9th, meaning they scored in all of the final five innings in winning their second straight series to open the season.

West Virginia wasn't overly aggressive on the base paths, but did set-up the initial runs with a double steal. Huth reached on a single before Kyle Gray set the table with a perfect sacrifice bunt between the mound and first base that turned into a hit. The double steal put both in scoring position, and Hill delivered, chopping a grounder over the bag and into center for the 2-0 lead. UNLV cut the advantage in half in the fourth inning with a solo home run from Justin Jones - the lead off hitter's first of the season - but that was it offensively for the Rebels (1-4).

Davis answered the blast with his second home run of the series, a solo shot pulled deep over the left field fence that pushed the lead to 3-1 in the fifth inning. WVU added another run on consecutive doubles by Hill and Austin, and that caused action in the UNLV bullpen, though Kremer finished the frame and kept the game at 4-1. He was chased an inning later in the sixth after giving up Shaun Corso's double and Huth's run-scoring single. Caleb Potter added another RBI singled that brought in Huth, and the 6-1 lead closed the book on Kremer (0-1) with 5.1 innings pitched, six runs, five earned, with eight hits and seven strikeouts.

The bullpen never fared any better, as four different pitchers combined to give up the last seven runs on nine hits. Jeff Hardy and Nick Wernke each worked an inning of relief to seal West Virginia's fourth straight victory after an opening day loss to Charleston  Southern. UNLV's starting line-up had just three hits, with none for extra bases besides the Jones home run, while WVU went 10-for-19 with runners on, 7-for-16 when in scoring position.

The win moves the Mountaineers to to 3-1 all-time vs. UNLV, with all four games taking place in Las Vegas. WVU 2-1 under head coach Randy Mazey, and goes for the series sweep Sunday at 4 p.m. eastern. West Virginia is expected to send sophomore BJ Myers (1-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound. Myers threw eight innings of shutout ball in his first outing of the season, a series-deciding 3-0 win at Charleston Southern last Sunday.

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