West Virginia Racks Up 16 Hits In 14-7 Victory Over Herd

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Jackson Cramer had three hits and four RBI while five different players registered multi-hit games for West Virginia as it beat Marshall 14-7 here Tuesday night.

Cramer hit his team-leading fifth home run of the season in the 1st inning, a two-run shot to right that erased an early Herd edge and set the stage for an offensive attack that would total 16 hits in scoring WVU's third-most runs this season. The senior also added a two-run double to the left-center gap in the 4th inning to jumpstart a six-run frame that blew the game open at 11-3 midway through.

"I got a hitter's count, 3-1, and got a good pitch," said Cramer of his home run. "They weren't throwing anything two times in a row. I couldn't sit on one pitch all day, but I got my couple mistakes and that's all it takes. Lately I have been trying to have a power approach and sit on pitches and hit mistakes."

Cramer and the offense quickly chased Marshall starter Brad O'Connor, who allowed 11 hits over 11 outs in lasting just 3.2 innings. WVU laced the right-hander for the 11 runs, nine earned, with three doubles and Cramer's home run in raising O'Connor's ERA more than two runs to 7.90. Besides the four early RBI by Cramer, the trio of Jimmy Galusky, Kyle Gray and Ivan Gonzales picked up one RBI each in a three-run 2nd inning. After Cramer's double in the 4th opened the floodgates, Cole Austin's single scored him before Kyle Davis, Chase Illig and Brandon White each had RBI hits as West Virginia (16-10) got production from the bottom half of the order in winning for the 8th time in 11 games.

"We've got a really good offensive team if we don't get in our own way," head coach Randy Mazey said. "Singles don't really win it for you. Extra base hits win games andthat's what we did. We drove some balls and hit some doubles. Cramer gets a home run and a double, Davis a double. That's how you win and that's how you score runs."

That was just enough for Mountaineer starter Isaiah Kearns, who pitched 5.2 innings, allowing seven runs, all earned.  The right-hander was cruising through five innings after allowing three runs over the initial two frames. But Kearns ran into trouble in the 6th after Tyler Ratliff hit his second solo shot of the game before three straight singles loaded the bases. MU would eventually score four runs as all three base runners scored on a wild pitch, throwing error and an RBI triple after righty Sam Kessler replaced Kearns.

Kearns survived an early scare when a line drive hit off his right leg and bounced down the third base foul line. That resulted in an RBI double, and Kearns took several minutes to recover while having difficulty planting off the rubber. The freshman remained in the game and settled nicely, allowing just one more run through five innings before the four-run 6th frame.

Kessler was excellent in relief, allowing just one hit over 3.1 innings pitched while striking out four and allowing one base on balls. He recorded 10 outs over 12 batters faced in earning his first save of the season.

"On a great night to play offense, with the wind blowing out - and those guys are a pretty good offensive eam - to get through the game with just two freshman pitchers (was big)," Mazey said. "This wasn't a game where we could afford to throw five or six guys. For Sam to come in and do what he did was really good team-wise."

The Mountaineers, meanwhile, tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the 8th on a Gray's two-run single that followed a pair of walks to open the inning. That pushed the lead to the final 14-7 margin.

It was a needed performance for West Virginia's bullpen, which was pressed into action in the 9-8 series-sealing victory at then-No. 23 Oklahoma State on Sunday. Starter Connor Dotson suffered a season-ending arm injury while warming up in the bullpen. That necessitated an emergency start by Kade Strowd, and the freshman pitched into the fifth inning before three other Mountaineers combined to cinch a win.

Marshall (12-14) was paced by a pair of homers from Ratliff. The junior, who was hitting .273 with four home runs entering, crushed a pair of shots off Kearns well over the left field wall. They were just solo shots, however, as Kearns (4-0) kept the ball down and in the zone for the most part in not allowing a walk. Two other MU players had multi-hit games despite the Herd losing for the fifth time in six games.

Notes: Marshall had four errors over its first four outs in the field as the Mountaineers scored five runs, three earned, over the first two innings ... WVU is now 44-24 all-time vs Marshall, including a season sweep last year with a 5-4 extra inning win in Charleston before a 9-8 home victory.  It was the first series season sweep by either team since 1997, when WVU was in the midst of an eight-game streak versus the Herd ... West Virginia advanced to 30-8 against MU all-time at home ... Mazey won his 140th career game at WVU ... The Big 12 remains tied for the most teams in the RPI top 20 this week with five. That includes WVU, which is ninth, second to TCU in the conference.

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