The Mountaineers pounded out 12 hits, including three for extra bases in a key five-run 5th inning that blew the game open at 9-0. That was more than enough for Donato (2-3), who cruised through the entire game without allowing a runner in scoring position. He finished allowing just two hits over the nine innings pitched in lowering his ERA to 2.99.
The junior was so dominant that the count reached two balls just once over Donato's first 21 batters faced, and the right-hander threw a five-pitch 3rd inning. Just once over the first six innings did Donato's pitch count reach double figures in any one frame as he finally shook off some of the past bad luck and picked up his first win since beating Kansas 1-0 on March 25, a span of five starts.
"I had really good command of my curve ball today and it helped me a lot with the offense coming out early," Donato said. "I haven't had an outing this year where I have had run support like that. It helped me out a lot and took pressure off of me. I was able to throw all three pitches, fastball, curve ball change-up, it helped me out."
West Virginia's offense, meanwhile, scored four runs over the first three innings before the five-run fifth buried the Bears. In all, eight Mountaineers had hits, including a 3-for-3 performance from Jackson Cramer that gave him his second consecutive four-RBI game. Ray Guerrini and Ivan Vera also had two hits each, with Guerrini hitting his fifth homer of the year and Vera finishing with a double and three runs scored.
The game was never truly close, and never in doubt once Donato amassed an early lead and settled in against an overmatched Baylor line-up. WVU went ahead 1-0 in the 2nd inning on Cole Austin's RBI groundout following a pair of singles and a wild pitch. The Mountaineers (22-18, 7-8 Big 12) added three more runs in the 3rd when Jimmy Galusky and Braden Zabnisky reached on bunt singles and moved into scoring position on another wild pitch. Darius Hill walked to load the bases and BU got the out at home on a grounder to third base. But catcher Matt Menard thew past first looking for the double play, allowing a run to score. Cramer finished the frame with a two-RBI single to center for the 4-0 lead before getting caught in a run down trying to advance to second.
The 5th inning saw none of the small ball approach of the previous frames. West Virginia jumped on starter Drew Tolson with four straight hits - three for extra bases - after a leadoff walk by Kyle Davis. With Davis on first and one down, Vera doubled to left, putting a pair of runners in scoring position. Cramer followed with another two-RBI single, this time to rightfield, that turned into a two-base error when the ball skipped past Darren Sheppard. It gave Cramer four RBI, his second four RBI game, with every one coming on a single.
Guerrini followed Cramer by pulling a full count fastball over the left field wall to make it 8-0. Austin then continued to pour it on via a triple, his first of the year, and Kyle Gray lifted a ball to centerfield to plate Austin and make it 9-0. That mercifully chased Tolson (4-3), who gave up the nine runs, eight earned, over 4.2 innings pitched. He allowed nine hits with four walks, two wild pitches and two strikeouts over 99 pitches.
"That's three games in a row where we have played very well," said Mazey, whose team won its first Friday night game of a weekend series for just the third time in seven tries since opening Big 12 play. "We have pitched it well and played really good defense, and this is another double-digit hit game. Great win. Chad finally got rewarded for how he's pitched this year. This is not unlike what he has done all season. Up and down the dugout everybody in the dugout feels good for him. He finally got rewarded."
The game never got any better for Baylor (19-23, 5-11) the rest of the way as WVU loaded the bases in the 7th inning, then scored on a five-pitch walk for the 10-0 final margin. Donato came back out for the 8th inning, having thrown just 71 pitches to 24 batters to that point, and easily got the last six outs for his first complete game of the season, and the second of his career after a sterling nine-inning performance in an 8-0 shutout of Charleston Southern last year. Donato threw 82 pitches, 67 for strikes, in facing just three batters over the minimum of 27. So did he sense the outing coming in the bullpen during pregame?
"Honestly, down there in the bullpen I didn't have much control, but that's how it normally goes," Donato said. "No control in the 'pen and I'm really good on the mound. Control in the pen and it's shaky for the first couple innings on the mound. I was able to come out and I had really great command."
WVU is now 3-0 at home all-time against Baylor and has evened the series at 5-5 overall.
The series continues Saturday at noon with a match-up of lefties. WVU will start Ross Vance (4-3, 5.57 ERA) against Baylor's Daniel Castano (2-4, 4.48 ERA). First pitch was originally scheduled for 4 p.m. and has been moved up due to expected inclement weather.