CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — John Means no-hit No. 12 North Carolina through five innings and threw West Virginia’s first complete game of the season in a 5-1 win Wednesday.
Means (4-1) registered five strikeouts and no walks while tossing a three-hitter. The junior left-hander had been scheduled to pitch Tuesday but West Virginia’s game against Marshall was washed out. So when the Mountaineers (11-6) hastily scheduled a replacement game against the Tar Heels (14-6), Means recalibrated to throw a 102-pitch gem.
“My arm was feeling good, so the jacked-up schedule didn’t hurt too much,” said Means, who lost his no-hit bid on Parks Jordan’s leadoff single to open the sixth.
“My fastball command saved me a lot today. I tried to spot up with that the entire game—and they’re a fastball hitting team—so I tried to get them to roll over and get themselves out most of the time.”
Even with the loss North Carolina’s RPI remained at No. 9, and just two spots behind was West Virginia at 11th—rare air for the program.
“We took this game at the No. 12 team in the nation on short notice, and a lot of people thought we were crazy for doing this,” said Mountaineers coach Randy Mazey. “But we’ve got a good team and I want to prove to everybody and prove to our guys that we’ll take on anybody, anywhere, anytime.”
Ryan McBroom went 3-for-4 with a double, while Billy Fleming and Justin Fox each had two hits and two RBIs.
“It’s a huge for our program, a big win,” Fox said.
West Virginia scored the game’s first runs in the top of the fifth on Bobby Boyd’s RBI groundout and Fleming’s two-out single. That chased North Carolina starter Luis Paula (1-1), who allowed four hits and two walks while throwing 75 pitches.
North Carolina cut the deficit to 2-1 in the seventh on pinch-hitter Adam Pate’s two-out double to left-center, but Pate was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.
A two-out rally by West Virginia in the eighth led to Fox’s full-count, two-run single to center. The third baseman had been in a 1-for-18 slump entering the day.
“With baseball that’s how it is—you’ve just got to keep battling,” said Fox. “And when you get down to two strikes, that’s when you’ve got to be tougher. He hung one and I stayed with my approach.”
Means followed that with an easy bottom of the eighth, needing only five pitches to induce a grounder, a popped-up bunt and a fly ball to center.
“It definitely helped a lot, that five-pitch inning being nice and quick, because my pitch count was rising a bit,” Means said.
The Mountaineers added another run in the ninth when Boyd singled, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Fleming’s single to right.
Means closed out the game with a perfect ninth, facing only two batters over the minimum.
“He was on all night long, and he had all three pitches going,” Mazey said. ”We gave him this game on short notice and when you do that to a pitcher, you don’t know what you’re going to get because they have routines between starts. We threw him into the fire here and he responded unbelievably. That was one of the best pitched games we’ve had all year.”
West Virginia will stay in the state to take on UNC Wilmington in a three-game series starting Friday.