The West Virginia University baseball team won its fifth consecutive game with a 4-1 victory at No. 18 Coastal Carolina on Monday, its second win over the defending NCAA champions in the last three days.
The Mountaineers (5-2) went a perfect 4-0 at the Caravelle Resort Tournament in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, including a 22-9 win over the Chanticleers (4-5) on Saturday before Monday afternoon’s victory at Springs Brooks Ballpark.
WVU took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning and junior right-handed starter Conner Dotson threw six strong innings with a career-best 10 strikeouts. The bullpen followed with three shutout innings, holding CCU to one hit.
“These early games, you learn a lot about your club, and we’ve won some games in different ways this weekend,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “There’ve been times where we pitched really well, times where we hit really well, and we played great defense the whole time we were down here. You do those three things pretty well and you’ll win some games.”
Dotson allowed just one run and improved to 2-0 on the young season, along with striking out a career-best 10 batters. While he gave up seven hits and walked five, four of those hits, and the lone run, came in the first inning.
Dotson settled down in the second and faced the minimum three batters in the second, third and fifth innings. It included a stretch where he struck out seven of eight batters faced.
“They were hitting him a lot the first two innings, they got a lot of hits and were hitting balls hard, but once he settled in, I think he learned a lot about pitching today,” Mazey said. “He started moving his fastball around and throwing breaking balls and changeups in fastball counts. That’s when he got really good and started piling up the strikeouts.”
Offensively, sophomore third baseman Cole Austin hit his second home run of the weekend and sixth of his career in the third inning and finished with a team-high two hits, including the eventual game-winning hit in the first, and two RBI.
Senior first baseman Jackson Cramer had one hit, an RBI and scored a run. Sophomore right fielder Darius Hill extended his hitting streak to a career-best nine games with a hit and a run scored.
For the second time in as many games against the Chanticleers, West Virginia jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. Hill continued his hot hitting with a single and scored from first on Cramer’s double to left-center. Cramer then scored on Austin’s single through the left side, giving WVU a 2-0 lead.
Like it did on Saturday though, Coastal answered, but this time with just one run. CCU had four hits, but just one run scored thanks to Dotson’s first two strikeouts, the second ending the inning with the bases loaded.
West Virginia added to its lead thanks to Austin’s towering home run in the third. The solo shot that cleared the bullpen in left field was Austin’s second of the season and sixth of his career. Both of the Austin’s homers this year came this weekend at Coastal Carolina.
The Mountaineers added to their lead with a two-out run in the sixth. Sophomore pinch-hitter Braden Zarbnisky walked with one out and was sacrificed to second by sophomore catcher Ivan Gonzalez. Freshman second baseman TJ Lake singled him home from second with two outs to extend the lead to 4-1.
WVU had a great opportunity to add to its lead in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and one out. However, Austin hit into a fielder’s choice and Zarbnisky struck out to end the scoring threat.
Dotson’s day ended in the seventh when he walked the first two batters he faced. Senior right-hander Jackson Sigman relieved him and quickly put an end to the scoring threat with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout.
Coastal again had a chance to chip into the West Virginia lead in the eighth, when two runners reached with one out. However, Sigman again came through with a strikeout and a fly out to end the Chanticleer’s chances.
Sophomore righty Jacob Potock pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his first career save.
Submitted to Blue and Gold News by WVU Athletic Commuications