MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Even with snow flurries falling on Hawley Field, the West Virginia baseball team seemed happy to be playing at home at last.
Left-hander Zach Bargeron stifled Pitt for five innings and the Mountaineers scored five two-out runs to make the best of 30-degree temps in a 6-3 victory Tuesday afternoon.
West Virginia climbed to 13-8 in its final tuneup before Big 12 conference play, while Pitt slipped to 12-11. The teams are slated to rematch in Pittsburgh next Tuesday.
“We tell our guys all the time, even if there’s two outs and nobody on base, we’re only two swings away from scoring,” said West Virginia coach Randy Mazey. “Our guys never give up an inning, no matter where we’re at in the lineup. Two-out runs are really, really good to score and really, really bad to give up.”
WVU’s first four batters combined to go 8-of-16 with two walks, highlighted by Ryan McBroom’s three-hit day. But it was Shaun Woods in the No. 6 spot who delivered the biggest hit—a two-out, two-run single under the glove of Pitt second baseman Ryan Johnson that broke a 1-1 tie-in the bottom of the third.
Bargeron (1-0), who entered with a 10.61 ERA in his first six appearances, looked vulnerable again upon giving up a run after only seven pitches. A Stephen Vranka leadoff double, Dylan Wolsonovich’s bunt and Boo Vazquez’s sac-fly to center made it 1-0.
Yet Bargeron was solid otherwise, pitching around four hits and two walks to leave with a 3-1 lead after five innings.
It was a far better start than what Bargeron delivered in Sunday’s loss at UNC Wilmington when he gave up six runs in just 1 2/3 innings. He was happy to take the ball on short rest Tuesday with Mazey not wanting to risk weekend starter John Means amid the freezing weather.
“That was a hard outing at Wilmington,” Bargeron said. “Any time you have an outing like that you want to erase that as quick as you can.”
Pitt’s TJ Zeuch took the loss, allowing two earned runs on four hits in four innings.
WVU made it 4-1 in the sixth when Taylor Munden survived a borderline 2-2 pitch before dumping reliever Adam Dian’s full-count delivery into center for an RBI single.
Mountaineers reliever Michael Bennett earned a four-inning save, setting down Pitt in order in the sixth, seventh and ninth. His only rough patch—a one-out walk to Vazquez that preceded Casey Roche’s two-run homer in the eighth—allowed Pitt to pull within 4-3.
The game didn’t stay close for long, though, as WVU’s Bobby Boyd and Billy Fleming struck for RBI singles in the the bottom of the eighth.
“Our RPI going into this game was around 20, but you can’t afford to lose at home—no matter who you play,” Mazey said. “Every game is huge for us. If we can scratch and claw a couple of these midweek games and find a way to finish in the middle of the pack in the conference, this team has a chance to play in the postseason.”