MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Despite going winless since March 8, West Virginia ace Harrison Musgrave thought he was throwing as well as he did in 2013 when he was the Big 12 pitcher of the year.
After Friday night, Kansas State would agree.
Musgrave posted his first win in six starts by firing eight shutout innings, and West Virginia’s hot bats provided ample cushion in a 10-1 win over the Wildcats.
The Mountaineers (22-16, 5-7) banged out 13 hits and reached double-digits runs for the third straight game. Ryan McBroom hit his seventh homer of the season as the top four hitters drove in eight runs. It was the kind of run support that had been lacking Musgrave’s drought, a stretch in which the junior left-hander was 0-3 despite a 2.42 ERA.
“I don’t feel like I’m throwing any worse than last year,” said Musgrave (4-3), who allowed three hits, fanned eight and lowered his season ERA to 1.77. “In a way, I feel like I’m a little better this season, because I’m throwing my curve ball more.”
Kansas State (23-20, 4-9) couldn’t scratch until the ninth inning, when Michael Bennett replaced Musgrave after throwing 114 pitches.
The game was long decided by then as West Virginia attacked Wildcats starter Levi MaVorhis (5-5), who entered with a 2.70 ERA but was charged with nine earned runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. Every WVU starter except catcher Cameron O’Brien had at least one hit.
“We’ve got it going pretty good offensively right now,” said Mountaineers coach Randy Mazey. “Every guy who steps up to the plate is seeing the ball well and we’re getting extra-base hits.”
K-State came in with the Big 12′s highest team batting average, but scrounged out only three singles against Musgrave, none after Shane Conlon’s one-out hit in the fourth. After needing 53 pitches to wade through the first three innings, Musgrave became more efficient.
“The breaking ball came along a couple innings in and once it did, it definitely was a lot easier,” he said.
The nine-run margin was WVU’s largest in Big 12 play since beating K-State 13-2 in the 2013 league opener.
Second baseman Billy Fleming, who had two hits and two RBIs, was happy the lineup’s recent outburst finally benefitted Musgrave. He received an average of two runs support the past three weekends, and three times this season he left with an eighth-inning lead only to be squandered by the bullpen.
“It’s been rough for him and we want to get him some wins obviously,” Fleming said. “We feel bad because he went out there and he should have won a lot of games that we lost.”
Taylor Munden’s leadoff single and stolen base helped WVU break ahead in the first inning. Fleming’s bloop to shallow right field made it 1-0, before Jacob Rice lined an RBI single that skipped through the legs of left fielder Clayton Dalrymple.
Though Rice advanced to the third on the error, K-State center fielder Ross Kivet closed the inning with a diving catch on Brad Johnson’s pop-fly.
Munden walked to open the third inning and was bunted to second before Fleming whistled an RBI single over the shoulder of MaVorhis. McBroom followed a straight-away two-run blast to center field, his seventh homer of the season and first since March 31.
Bobby Boyd’s two-run single widened the gap to 7-0 in the fourth, while Munden’s two-run double added to the onslaught in the sixth.
With WVU on its way to a sixth win in seven games, K-State coach Brad Hill turned to seldom-used reliever Braxton Wilks, who allowed four hits in 1 2/3 inning, including a bases-loaded walk to Max Nogay.
Said Fleming: “Everyone’s contagious right now.”
Game 2 of the series is Saturday at 4 p.m.