On a clear night in Thibodaux, Louisiana, the WVU pitching staff held the opposition to just one run for the third consecutive game and the offense was fueled by another well-rounded attack throughout the order.
The Mountaineers (6-2) scored eight runs on 14 hits with one error. Four pitchers, led by freshman right-handed starter Isaiah Kearns (2-0) combined to hold the Colonels (4-5) to one run on three hits. WVU stranded nine baserunners and NSU left six runners on base.
Kearns was impressive in his first career start. He held Nicholls hitless into the fifth inning and allowed just one hit and walked one with a career-best five strikeouts in 5.2 innings pitched.
Kearns became the first WVU starter this season to not allow a run and limit the opposition to one hit, and he is the third Mountaineer this year to strike out five or more in a game. Kearns improved to 2-0 on the young season while making his third career appearance.
“He wasn’t nervous at all in his first start of his freshman year,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “He went out there and threw all three of his pitches for strikes, kept them off-balance and had good velocity. His changeup was really good and he mixed in his slider when he needed. He really had control of the whole game the whole night.”
Offensively, senior first baseman Jackson Cramer was one of five Mountaineers with two hits, and he added two RBIs on a two-run home run in the sixth inning. It was Cramer’s second of the season and 20th of his career.
Freshman center fielder Brandon White also had two RBIs with one hit. Freshman right fielder Darius Hill and freshman catcher Chase Illig had two hits and an RBI. Illig recorded the first hit and RBI of his career in the win.
“Nearly everyone in the lineup had a hit or two, and a lot of extra-base hits,” Mazey added. “Anytime you can execute your hitting approach, that makes the coaching staff happy, and that’s what we did. We smashed a lot of balls in the middle of the field and got multiple bases every time we swung the bat. That’s how you win games.”
West Virginia got on the board with a run in the third inning. Scoring first for the fourth time this season, shortstop Jimmy Galusky led off the inning with a triple and scored on a fielder’s choice.
WVU’s bats broke through in the fourth inning for four runs on six hits. The inning began with back-to-back triples by sophomore designated hitter Marques Inman and Illig. The first triples of both players’ careers were followed by an RBI double by freshman second baseman TJ Lake.
That made it a 3-0 game, but the Mountaineers were not done. Galusky reached safely after laying down a perfect bunt, sending Lake to third. A groundout scored Lake and after another infield single sent Galusky to third, he scored on Hill’s single that bounced off the Nicholls pitcher.
West Virginia scored four runs on six hits in the fourth inning to take a 5-0 lead. Two hits were triples, three were infield singles and one was a double.
The Mountaineers added to their lead thanks to Cramer’s two-run home run in the sixth inning. His second home run of the season cleared the fence in right-center and scored Hill.
Both teams scored a run in the seventh. With the bases loaded and one out, freshman center fielder Brandon White made it an 8-0 game with a sacrifice fly. In the bottom of the inning, Nicholls scored their first run off freshman reliever Kade Strowd, who came in for Kearns in the sixth.
Freshman right-hander Ryan McDonald came in and got the final two outs of the seventh and followed it up with a 1-2-3 eight inning.
Freshman right-hander Alek Manoah struck out two in the ninth before loading the bases. While not allowing a hit in the inning, a groundout ended the game.
West Virginia’s stay in Louisiana continues with a three-game series at Tulane from March 3-5. The series opens in New Orleans on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Saturday’s first pitch is set for 5 p.m., while Sunday’s finale at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium is at 2 p.m. Tulane will have live stats and a video stream (subscription required) for all three games. Those links can be found on the baseball schedule page on WVUsports.com. Additional behind-the-scenes updates, news and notes from Louisiana can be found on social media by following and connecting with the team at @WVUBaseball on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
NOTES: WVU improved to 6-2 and has won six games in a row … Making his first career start and third appearance of his career, Isaiah Kearns allowed one hit and walked one with five strikeouts in 5.2 innings … Kearns improved to 2-0 on the season and did not allow a hit until the fifth inning … Chase Illig was 2-2 with an RBI and had his first career hit and RBI … Marques Inman and Chase Illig hit back-to-back triples to lead off the fourth inning, the first triples of their careers … Jackson Cramer hit his second home run of the season and 20th of his career in the sixth inning … Eight of the nine starters in the WVU lineup had at least one hit.