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West Virginia receives Major lift to avoid elimination with 13-5 win against Ball State

Thanks to a major lift from Aidan Major, West Virginia’s baseball team put an end to a six-game losing streak and extended its season at least one more game.

Major took over Saturday’s elimination game against Ball State before the bottom of the fourth inning and pitched five scoreless innings, striking out eight and surrendering one hit over a dominant effort that sparked the Mountaineers’ 13-5 win as part of the Lexington Regional at Kentucky Proud Park.

The victory allows the Mountaineers (40-19) to play at least one more elimination game at noon Sunday against host Kentucky, which lost to Indiana later Saturday, 5-3. If the Mountaineers eliminate UK, they will play again at 6 p.m. Sunday against the Hoosiers.

With the win, WVU also reached 40 wins for the second time and tied the program record for single season victories.

Just before Major took over for Ben Hampton, the Mountaineers turned a two-run deficit into a 7-5 lead. That inning featured a solo home run from Dayne Leonard, JJ Wetherholt’s run-scoring groundout and a two-run long ball from Logan Sauve.

WVU added to its advantage in the seventh when Grant Hussey hit the Mountaineers’ third and final home run of the matchup.

In the ninth, the Mountaineers managed to score five insurance runs, getting two-run singles from Leonard and Tevin Tucker and a run-scoring single from Sauve.

Major had pitched five-plus innings only twice this season before Saturday. He struck out the side in the fifth and retired his first eight batters and 15 of the 16 he faced, before giving way to Noah Short, who pitched a perfect ninth.

Wetherholt’s three-run home run in the third inning gave WVU a 3-1 lead at the time, but Hampton ran into trouble in the bottom of that inning. 

After Hampton retired the first two batters off the frame, Adam Tellier connected for a double — the first of six straight Cardinals’ hits.

Tellier scored on Hunter Dobbins’ single, and Blake Bevis’ run-scoring single tied it at 3.

CJ Horn and Nick Gregory later added RBI singles in the third.

But Ball State (36-23) starting pitcher Ty Johnson nor relievers Ty Weatherly and Jxxx Hartlaub found much success on the mound.

Johnson took the loss after surrendering seven runs, including six earned, in four innings. Weatherly went 4 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on three hits with four walks and six strikeouts.

Hartlaub was charged with two runs on three hits and recorded one out.

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