MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Amid snow flurries and sub-freezing wind chills, West Virginia pitcher BJ Myers hoped Friday night’s series opener might be postponed.
The junior right-hander from Flower Mound, Texas, had ulterior motives.
“My parents were supposed to fly in, but their flight got cancelled,” Myers said. “I was working to try and get it pushed until (Saturday) so they could still come up. It didn’t work out that way, but I was ready to throw today.”
Kansas hitters who struck out 10 times could attest to Myers’ readiness after he threw a complete-game five-hitter and allowed only two runners past first base in the Mountaineers’ 10-1 romp.
West Virginia, in winning its fifth straight game, improved to 18-10 overall and 5-2 in the Big 12.
Ivan Gonzalez had a team-leading three hits, starting with a two-out, two-homer that put the Mountaineers ahead in the first. Kyle Gray’s two-run eighth-inning shot was the first homer of his career.
Kansas, which committed four errors that yielded seven unearned runs, fell to 13-16 and 3-4 in the league.
When Myers (3-2) inquired about inclement weather potentially creating a Saturday doubleheader, West Virginia coach Randy Mazey replied “Heck no” and advised his top starter to stick with Friday’s preparations.
“I think that was in the back of his mind — ‘I don’t want to to pitch in the cold, so let’s push it back to Saturday when it’s going to be warmer,’ — but I stomped that out pretty quick,” Mazey said.
Myers’ parents missed the sharpest start of his career and the team’s first wire-to-wire performance of the season. He faced the minimum in six innings, issued only one walk, and shut out Kansas into the ninth when James Consentino’s double and Matt McLaughlin’s sac-fly brought in the lone run.
“BJ’s that guy where hitters go back to the dugout not hack any idea what pitches thy just saw,” Mazey said. “Different angles, different speeds and moving different directions.
Myers threw 125 pitches, 76 for strikes, and felt strong in the final inning when he fanned the Jayhawks leadoff hitter Rudy Karre for the third time.
“We need to get these guys’ pitch-counts up a little bit,” Mazey said. “You want them at the end of the year to go 120, 125 pitches. We could’ve got him out of there in the ninth inning, but leaving him out there helps us down the road.
“You can always tell when BJ gets tired and he was still cooking really good in the later innings.”
Kansas starter Taylor Turski (2-3) allowed five runs, two earned, over five innings. Two of his five walks were aboard in the fifth when Karre dropped a fly ball in centerfield that allowed three runs to score.
“We had them 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth with two outs,” said Jayhawks coach Ritch Price. “When Karre lost the ball in the twilight, that was a huge play in the game. It is a three-run error and you are down five runs. Up until that point, to compliment both teams, that is as cold a night as I have ever been associated with on a baseball field. The wind was blowing hard and both teams played good baseball until that error.”
In the seventh, Darius Hill’s two-out grounder score two more unearned runs when first baseman Owen Taylor threw behind the pitcher covering.
Kyle Davis followed with an RBI double to make it 8-0.
That was ample cushion for Myers whose strikeouts came on fastballs, sliders and change-ups.
“I felt like I could spot in and out, and my slider was breaking how I wanted it to,” he said. “My command was exactly where I wanted it to be.”