West Virginia Uses Stellar Start By Freshman Michael Grove, Another Jackson Cramer Homer To Top Maryland 4-1

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Michael Grove struck out a career-high 13 and allowed just one unearned run while Jackson Cramer hit his team-leading seventh homer as West Virginia beat Maryland 4-1 on Tuesday for its sixth straight win.

Grove dominated a subpar Terrapins line-up, mixing his fastball and a sharp-breaking slider while pounding the zone over 6.2 innings pitched. The freshman scattered six hits, and allowed just a single run in the 4th inning. He struck out 13, including four of his last six batters faced, before being pulled with nobody on in the 7th inning after 113 pitches. 

Cramer, named the Big 12 Player of the Week for the third time this season on Monday, hit a solo homer in the 4th inning for what eventually developed into the game's winning run. That put the Mountaineers ahead 2-1 after an Ivan Vera sac fly tied the game at 1-1 a play before, and Grove (2-3) combined with Jackson Sigman and Blake Smith to stifle a struggling Maryland offense which ranks 11th in the 13-team Big 10 Conference.

West Virginia (28-19) had little of its fireworks displayed in a three-game sweep of Texas last weekend, but put up just enough offense to win for the sixth consecutive time and the ninth time in their last 10 outings as they continue a late-season surge. Of now, the Mountaineers have followed a 3-7 stretch by going 9-1 over the last 2 1/2 weeks.

WVU finished with seven hits, and added a key insurance run in the 7th inning when Ray Guerrini led off with a double and advanced to third base before scoring on Kyle Gray's sharp infield single. Vera added on with his second sac fly of the game in the 8th inning, plating Braden Zarbnisky for the 4-1 final margin. He finished with the pair of RBI.

Smith pitched the 8th and 9th innings for his seventh save of the season. The seven hits came from five different players, with Cramer and Guerrini having the lone extra base hits. Cramer and Hill both went 2-for-4 and scored a run. 

Maryland (25-22) was led by a 2-for-4 effort from clean-up hitter Nick Dunn, who doubled. The Terps took a 1-0 lead in the 4th inning on Kevin Biondic's RBI single, the lone run-scoring play of the game for UM. WVU answered with two runs in the bottom half when Darius Hill reached on an error, stole second and advanced to third on a balk. He then scored an unearned run on Vera's sac fly. Cramer followed with his team-best tying 7th home run of the season, a solo shot to right for the 2-1 lead which held into the 7th inning.

Cramer became just the fifth player in Big 12 history to be named Player of the Week three or more times in one season, and the seventh to earn the accolade in back-to-back weeks. The junior first baseman led WVU in hits (8), batting average .500), slugging percentage (.875) and on-base percentage (.556) last week.

Maryland starter Hunter Parsons (2-1) went six full frames, giving up three hits and the two runs, just one earned on Cramer's homer. West Virginia then attacked the bullpen and reliever Andrew Green, scoring two runs over the next five outs to help seal the victory.

WVU is now 24-38-1 all-time versus Maryland, including 10-6-1 at home. UM is 9-13 on the road this season, and ranks just 214th nationally in average (.259). The Mountaineers entered with an RPI of 95; Maryland was 57. The start time was delayed 53 minutes by rain, first pitch coming at 7:23 p.m.

West Virginia completes the home schedule this weekend with a nonconference series against William and Mary starting with a doubleheader Friday. First pitch is at 4 p.m., with the second game to follow. The Mountaineers are then off Saturday for the school's graduation, and play their final home game Sunday at 1 p.m.

BlueGoldNews Top Stories