Defense, Pitching Lead Mountaineers to 17th Win of the Year

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia improved to 17-10 with its win over Morehead St. on Wednesday evening.

Alek Manoah earned a win in his first career start as West Virginia (17-10, 4-2 Big 12) handled business against Morehead St. (22-7).

The Mountaineers, who had scored 14 runs just 24 hours earlier got going early again, thanks to a mishap filled first inning by Morehead St. starting pitcher Luke Humphreys. Humphreys started out the game by walking leadoff man Kyle Gray and Brandon White immediately afterwards. A pair of throwing errors, both by Humphreys, moved Gray to third and without recording a single out his day was over. The Eagles then put junior right hander JC Hatcher on the mound to face Jackson Cramer with runners on the corners and no outs. Cramer, who was batting .326 on the year entering the contest, grounded out to first but brought home Gray on the play for his team-leading 23rd RBI of the season. Just moments later, West Virginia earned its second run when a passed ball allowed White to take home plate. Hatcher was able to get out of the rest of the inning unscathed, but the damage was done as the Mountaineers took a 2-0 lead without registering a single hit.

Much like the first inning, the Mountaineers earned another pair of runs in the bottom of the third via Morehead St. errors. After Brandon White singled for West Virginia's first hit of the day, he successfully stole second base and on the play a throwing error allowed Gray to take home plate and score. After the run, a Jackson Cramer walk and a Kyle Davis single to center field loaded the bases for Darius Hill with one out. Hill hit a ground ball to first base that enabled White to score on a fielder's choice and extended West Virginia's lead to 4-0.

Morehead St. had a chance to get back into the game in the top of the fourth after freshman Alek Manoah hit three different Eagle batters, but it was stifled by a tremendous throw to third base by Darius Hill that completed a double play. Manoah's day was done shortly afterwards but freshman Cody Wood earned the third out of the inning on a fly ball. Despite the shaky command in the fourth, it was a very solid outing for Manoah in his first start on the mound for the Mountaineers. Shortly after the game ended, Manoah reviewed his first career start.

"I'm a high energy guy," said Manoah. "In a starting role you have to be calm and collected so I just kept reminding myself to do my thing and throw strikes."

West Virginia tacked on another run in the bottom of the fifth when Darius Hill earned his second RBI of the day on a line drive to center that brought home Kyle Davis. Hill's single gave West Virginia a 5-0 lead, but it would be short-lived as the Eagles notched their first run of the day on a balk call that brought home a runner in the top of the sixth inning.

Morehead St. had its chances as it got a pair of runners on base in the seventh and eighth innings, but Mountaineer reliever Jackson Sigman was able to end both innings with strikeouts. Riley Troutt closed out the game in the top of the ninth with a 1-2-3 inning for the Mountaineers.

West Virginia will be back in action on Friday night when it begins the first conference home series of the season against Kansas.

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