Kevin Kinder \ BlueGoldNews.com

West Virginia Baseball Drops 2017 Opener

The West Virginia University baseball team rallied from two down in the seventh inning, but it was not enough in a 6-3 loss on Opening Day at Charlotte on Friday afternoon.

The Mountaineers (0-1) trailed 2-0 early but scored two in the fifth inning to tie the game and took a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh. However, the 49ers (1-0) answered with four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

On a near-perfect February afternoon for baseball at Hayes Stadium, West Virginia scored three runs on 10 hits. Charlotte’s six runs came on nine hits. WVU committed the game’s lone error.

“I thought this was pretty indicative of what our team is going to be like. We had a really good day offensively, with 10 hits, and hit a lot of other balls really hard, and had a starting pitcher that got us into the seventh inning,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “Our bullpen has always been our question. When our starters get their pitch counts up, that’ll be a big advantage. This time of year, you have to figure out who can pitch out of the bullpen.”

Junior left fielder Kyle Davis led the offensive charge with his first home run of the season. The fifth-inning, two-run shot was his 15th career homer. Sophomore center fielder Braden Zarbnisky had two hits and drove in the third Mountaineer run. Sophomore Cole Austin led WVU with a career-high three hits, his eighth multi-hit game of his career.

Junior right-handed starter BJ Myers pitched 6.1 innings and allowed four runs on six hits while suffering the loss. He struck out three and did not walk a batter.

For the 49ers, starter Colton Laws pitched 6.0 innings and allowed a pair of runs on six hits. Brandon Vogler pitched two innings and gave up a run on four hits to pick up the victory. Jonah Patten’s scoreless ninth inning earned him the save.

After the Mountaineers stranded a pair of runners in the first inning and one in the second, Charlotte got on the board first with a run in the bottom half of the second. T.J. Nichting led off the inning with a single and scored on Jackson Mims’ double to left center. Mims was headed for third, but a great relay from Zarbnisky to freshman second baseman TJ Lake to Austin was in time to throw out Mims at third.

Davis’ two-run blast in the fifth inning tied the game at 2-2. The rally began with two outs, when Zarbnisky reached on a bunt single. Davis followed with a deep home run to left on the first pitch he saw from Laws.

West Virginia took its first lead of the season in the seventh inning. With Vogler in to pitch for Charlotte, sophomore shortstop Jimmy Galusky began the rally with a one-out single to left. He scored the go-ahead run on Zarbnisky’s double to left-center.

The 49ers answered with four runs in the seventh inning to take a 6-3 lead. The inning began with a double, single and fielder’s choice to score one. Senior right-hander Jackson Sigman came replaced Myers on the mound. Sigman got a groundout before giving up back-to-back singles as Charlotte regained the lead at 4-3. With sophomore righty Jacob Potock on the mound, the advantage grew to 6-3 with a walk and a two-run single.

The Mountaineers put two runners on in the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out singles, including Austin’s third hit of the day. However, a strikeout, one of seven for WVU on the day, ended West Virginia’s efforts at a rally.

The three-game series at Hayes Stadium continues on Saturday at 1 p.m., before the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m.

NOTES: WVU falls to 0-1 on the season and 1-3 all-time against Charlotte … Starter BJ Myers pitched 6.1 innings and allowed four runs on six hits and suffered the loss … Kyle Davis hit his first home run of the season and 15th of his career in the fifth inning to score the first two runs of the season for the Mountaineers … Braden Zarbnisky had one RBI, the 10th of his career, in the seventh inning, and had two hits for his seventh career multi-hit game … Cole Austin had a career-high three hits, his eighth career multi-hit game … Darius Hill’s first-inning single was the first hit of the season for the Mountaineers … TJ Lake, playing in his first career game, started at second base and recorded his first career hit, a second-inning single.

 


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