After being beaten down and swept over the weekend to open conference play against TCU in Fort Worth last weekend, the West Virginia Mountaineers dropped their fourth game in a row tonight by a score of 5-4 on the road against Penn State in non-conference action.
The loss sends West Virginia to 10-8 overall on the season, while boosting the Nittany Lions to 8-10.
Freshman Tanner Campbell got the start tonight for the Mountaineers, the third of his young career. He lasted just four innings, giving up four runs – three of which were earned – on five hits and two walks while striking out five Nittany Lion hitters.
Campbell was in hot water early and often in this game, and while he was able to get through the first inning unscathed despite allowing two hits, but putting runners on the basepaths came back to haunt him in the second.
A lead-off walk in the bottom of the second served as a spark for a two run rally for Penn State, as a two-out single with the bases loaded spotted and an error on first baseman Jackson Cramer spotted PSU an early 2-0 lead.
Walks were Campbell’s undoing tonight, as he issued two free passes and a hit-by-pitch in that tumultuous second inning that put WVU in an uphill battle early on. All told, Mountaineer pitchers walked five hitters on the night, and Penn State took advantage time and again.
“We walked a lot of guys. We walked the bases loaded in the second inning….We just didn’t play good baseball. That’s going to happen at times,” said head coach Randy Mazey on IMG’s Mountaineer Postgame show.
“It’s still early, you know. We’ve got young guys that are grinding it out and learning from mistakes.”
WVU’s offense came alive to respond in the top of the third, as Kyle Davis pushed a run across with a fielder’s choice and was immediately brought home on the strength of a two-run homer by Jackson Cramer. Cramer’s blast put the Mountaineers ahead 3-2, but they wouldn’t be able to hold on to the lead for long.
Penn State struck back with two more runs in the bottom of the fourth after a pair of doubles and a wild pitch brought in the go-ahead run. The Nittany Lions took a 4-3 lead into the fifth, but were unable to keep it as WVU freshman Darius Hill’s team-leading third triple of the year scored KC Huth to knot the game 4-4.
Hill stood on third with just one out, but the Mountaineers were unable to bring him home and regain the lead. West Virginia finished an abysmal 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position tonight.
Penn State turned a lead-off triple in the bottom of the seventh into the eventual game-winning run after a sacrifice fly by Greg Guers scored Jim Haley to put the Nittany Lions ahead 5-4. The win marked Penn State’s third in as many years over West Virginia.
The Mountaineers have the next two days off before they travel to Lawrence, Kansas to pick back up with Big 12 play in a three-game weekend set against the Kansas Jayhawks.