MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia coach Randy Mazey warned his team about falling prey to a trap game against Marshall.
His players listened.
The Mountaineers jumped ahead early and Corey Walter pitched seven innings for his best performance of the season in a 10-3 victory at Hawley Field.
The game was wedged between a 14-2 win over NCAA tourney contender Maryland on Tuesday night and a three-game series against defending Big 12 champion Kansas State that begins Friday. But West Virginia (21-16) collected double-digit hits for the third straight game and won for the fifth time in six outings.
“We showed up with really, really good energy for batting practice and for infield/outfield,” Mazey said. “We were definitely ready to play tonight.”
Cameron O’Brien had a season-high three hits, as did first baseman Ryan McBroom, who had two RBIs to drive his team-leading total to 38.
Bobby Boyd remained hot with two hits that lifted his average to .384, and No. 9 hitter Michael Constantini had a key two-run double in the fifth inning after Marshall temporarily tightened the game.
Walter (1-4) appreciated the support. After control problems forced him out of the closer’s role, the right-hander allowed seven hits and three runs, two of them earned. He fanned four, walked two and threw 70 of his 101 pitches for strikes.
“I hadn’t been pitching well, and I think this will definitely get me back on track,” said Walter, whose ERA dipped to 4.88. “Hopefully starts like this carry over into the weekend when I maybe come in out of the bullpen.”
Walter struck out the game’s first two batters in a perfect first inning, and pitched around two singles in the second by inducing a double play.
“Corey Walter, that’s as good as he’s thrown all year,” Mazey said. “That’s encouraging that he can do that. We’re going to need that down the stretch.”
After McBroom’s RBI single made it 1-0 in the first, Marshall’s Lance Elder (0-1) turned wild in the second. He walked Boyd to force in a run and hit Billy Fleming to bring home another, before McBroom’s sac-fly stretched the margin to 4-0.
It was 5-0 in the fourth when the Herd (18-21) struck back with Matt Reed’s RBI single and Eric Escobedo’s two-run hit. But Constantini’s two-run double down the left-field line reopened the gap in the fifth, and he promptly stole third and scored on a throwing error to make it 8-3.
“It’s always easier to pitch knowing you can go out there and mess up a little bit,” Walter said. “Even when the game did get close, they piled on three more runs.”
Michael Bennett and Ryan Hoftstander each tossed a hitless inning in relief for WVU, while Marshall cycled through eight pitchers. The last of whom was Roscoe Blackburn, who allowed Brad Johnson’s two-run single in the eighth.
“I think we’re playing with supreme confidence right now,” said Mazey.