The No. 21 West Virginia University baseball team lost the middle game of the series at Kansas State, 8-4, on Saturday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.
The loss evened the three-game series at 1-1, with the rubber match set for Sunday, at 1 p.m. ET/noon CT.
The Mountaineers (23-14, 9-5 Big 12) were held to four runs on eight hits with two errors, while the Wildcats (20-19, 3-11 Big 12) scored their eight runs on seven hits and committed three errors. Both WVU and K-State scored two unearned runs.
Freshman right-handed reliever Sam Kessler suffered the loss, allowing just two hits and two unearned runs in 4.1 innings with a strikeout and two walks. Kessler relieved sophomore right-handed starter Michael Grove, who faced three batters in the first inning before leaving with an arm injury.
Offensively, sophomore second baseman Kyle Gray again led the Mountaineers with three hits and an RBI.
Kansas State took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Two of the first three batters in the inning reached base, before Kessler relieved Grove. The only run in the inning scored on a groundout.
The Mountaineers answered in the top of the second inning to tie the game at 1-1. The inning began with a leadoff walk to junior left fielder Kyle Davis, and he was singled to second and advanced to third on a wild pitch before he scored on a sacrifice fly by freshman center fielder Brandon White.
However, Kansas State responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning, both unearned. A one-out fielding error was followed by a pair of two-out, RBI hits to give the Wildcats the lead back, at 3-1.
West Virginia chipped into the deficit with a run in the top of the fourth on a two-out single by sophomore shortstop Jimmy Galusky, driving home sophomore right fielder Darius Hill.
Kessler followed with a 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth inning. Kessler got two outs in the fifth inning before freshman reliever Ryan McDonald got a strikeout to end the frame and strand a runner.
The Wildcats broke it open with five runs on four hits, all with two outs, in the sixth inning to make it 8-2. A walk was followed by an RBI triple, two RBI singles and an RBI double before a flyout ended the inning.
WVU got a run back in the top of the seventh, also with two outs. White reached on an infield single, stole second and scored on a double by Gray to make it 8-3.
The Mountaineers attempted to rally in the ninth inning, but they could only score one run. Davis led off the inning with a single, and freshman pinch-hitter Chase Illig walked, before an infield single by Gray loaded the bases with two outs.
Freshman pinch-hitter Isaiah Kearns then reached on an error to bring in one run and keep the bases loaded for senior first baseman Jackson Cramer. However, Cramer lined out to end the game.
The series concludes on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET/noon CT. The game will be streamed on ESPN3 and Watch ESPN. Fans can listen to the game on the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG on various affiliates throughout the state, online at WVUsports.com, on the Mountaineer Gameday App and the TuneInRadio App. Dan Zangrilli will call the action. Links to video stream, radio broadcast and live stats can be found on the baseball schedule page on WVUsports.com.
NOTES: West Virginia falls to 23-14 on the season, 13-11 on the road and WVU has won 10 of its last 14 games … The Mountaineers are tied for second place in the Big 12 conference with a 9-5 record … WVU is 8-6 all-time against Kansas State and 4-4 in Manhattan, Kansas … Sam Kessler suffered his second loss of the season, pitching 4.1 innings in relief and allowing two runs, both unearned, on two hits with a strikeout and two walks … Kyle Gray led the team with three hits and had an RBI.