Early on in game two of Saturday night's double-header you could tell it wasn't Conner Dotson's night. Dotson, who has been solid on the year in his Sunday role, struggled with command and control and had already thrown 50 pitches when he was pulled after just 1.1 innings of work.
Jacksonville got its first run of the day in the top of the first when Evan Fernandez doubled to left center, but it was the second inning when the Dolphins really got it going. All told, the Dolphins scored six runs on six hits in an inning that was highlighted by defensive errors and a grand slam. Jacksonville's Chris Lehane was hit by a pitch, Ruben Someillan hit a ball to shallow center and Cole Austin bobbled a ball that would have set up a potential double play, all of which ultimately loaded the bases for lead off hitter Nathan Koslowski. Koslowski took advantage of the Mountaineer mishaps and drilled an 0-1 pitch to deep right field. The grand slam pushed the Dolphins' lead out to 5-0, but they weren't finished yet. Isaiah Kearns came on in relief of Dotson and allowed three hits that resulted in two more Jacksonville runs and extended the Mountaineers' deficit to 7-0.
Even though it fell behind, West Virginia showed a sense of resiliency and chipped away at the deficit in the third and fourth innings. In the bottom half of the third, Dolphin catcher Jacob Southern overthrew his third basemen, allowing Jimmy Galusky to steal home and in the fourth inning Darius Hill continued his solid performance with an RBI single to shallow left field. West Virginia also had chances to cut into the Dolphin lead in the bottom of the fifth and sixth, but Cramer and Galusky each struck out with runners in scoring position to end the innings.
While a number of pitchers (Randy Mazey made six pitching changes in six innings) kept the Dolphins at bay for several innings, Jacksonville third basemen Sam Armstrong broke through with a solo shot to deep right field in the top of the seventh, adding another insurance run for starting pitcher Casry Kulina. As a result Kulina earned his second win of the season and the final tally stood at 8-2 for the final two innings.
Shortly after the game's conclusion Darius Hill spoke about how tough it is to win game two of a double header after winning the first.
"When (you're on the losing team) you finish the first game after a loss the score is back to 0-0 and you're back at square one so you're feeling confident that you can win the next game no matter how bad you lost the first game."
Despite falling in the final game of the series, West Virginia took its second series in a row after splitting the double header. Hill hopes that the Mountaineers can carry that momentum going forward.
"It's really good momentum with how good the Big 12 has been," explained Hill. "We have some really tough series on the road coming up and it's really important to get rolling, especially against a good team with good arms like Jacksonville had."
The Mountaineers will be back in action with they travel up I-79 north to take on Pitt on Tuesday evening.