The West Virginia Mountaineers appeared to be on the verge of kicking off Big 12 play with a big road win over No. 7 TCU, but a seven-run bottom of the eighth inning lifted the Horned Frogs past the Mountaineers 10-6 in the first of a three-game set at Lupton Stadium.
Leading 6-3 heading to the bottom of the seventh inning, reliever Conner Dotson came out to start his third inning of work and walked Luken Baker to lead off the inning, and that’s when things started to go south for WVU.
After Josh Watson doubled Baker home, Dotson was pulled in favor of Michael Grove. Grove promptly gave up a game-tying two-run bomb to Elliot Barzilli, which appeared to rattle the WVU reliever.
He walked three men in the inning, including one that forced in the go-ahead run, and was saddled with the loss after giving up five earned runs of his own in the inning; the first two being charged to Dotson.
TCU’s offensive firepower was on display late in this game, but for much of the contest, it was the Mountaineers making most of the noise with the bats.
Designated hitter Shaun Corso continued the hot start to his sophomore year with two more RBIs tonight, both coming on a two-out double in the top of the first to get the Mountaineers off and running.
Junior first basemen Jackson Cramer, who scored on Corso’s double in the first, followed that up with a solo home run to right field in the top of the third, pushing WVU’s lead to 3-0. It was Cramer’s second home run of the season.
Sophomore Kyle Davis had a 2-for-5 night with an RBI out of the lead-off spot for WVU tonight, bumping his average up to .328 on the young season.
After Ray Guerrini walked and KC Huth singled to lead off the top of the sixth inning, freshman Kyle Gray knocked them both in with a double to center field. Gray is now tied with Darius Hill, another freshman, for the team lead in RBIs with 11.
Junior pitcher Chad Donato got the start for the Mountaineers tonight, and although he couldn’t work as deep into the game as head coach Randy Mazey surely would have liked, he only gave up two earned runs after scattering six hits and a walk in five innings pitched while striking out nine Horned Frogs.
The Mountaineers and Horned Frogs will be right back at it tomorrow for game two of the series. Ross Vance is slated to be on the bump for WVU, while TCU will send out Brian Howard. Both Vance and Howard have been effective this so far this year.
Vance comes in sporting a 1.99 earned run average and a 20/4 strikeout to walk ratio thus far in 22.2 innings pitched. Howard is pitching to the tune of a 2.70 ERA in 23.1 innings of work so far this year.