Even after nine innings, 127 pitches and a victory, Daniel Hegarty might still be dealing on the mound.
The Jayhawk starter tossed his second complete game in three starts on Friday, holding West Virginia to eight hits as Kansas downed West Virginia 7-3 in the series opener in Lawrence. He was helped by a thriving Jayhawk offense, which got off to a fast start against WVU’s Jacob Watters.
Kansas leadoff hitters Tavian Josenberger and Dylan Ditzenberger knocked hits to open the contest before both runners were put in scoring position by a wild pitch by Watters. Maui Ahuna sent the first home with an RBI groundout, then Caleb Upshaw hit a single to send home the second.
By the end of the first frame, Watters’s pitch count was already at 38, while his team trailed by two runs.
Watters nearly pulled a 1-2-3 inning in the second, but a dropped third strike kept the Jayhawks alive with two outs. KU loaded the bases with a single and a walk, but Watters got out of the inning unscathed. Still, he added 16 more pitches to his count for the day after the presumptive third out, which was shortening by the inning.
Cooper McMurray gave a little breathing room in the fourth inning with a solo home run to right field. Watters’s day ended just a couple of batters later after allowing a two-RBI double to Nolan Metcalf.
Watters (2-4) took the loss after four full innings and 116 pitches of work, allowing six runs on seven hits. He struck out five Jayhawks and walked three. Carlson Reed took the mound in the fifth for WVU and finished the next four innings, allowing one run on three hits with four strikeouts.
Hegarty (5-4), meanwhile, was dealing for Kansas. He allowed his first hit to Victor Scott II in the third inning, but the Mountaineers wouldn’t send a run across the plate until the fifth inning when Scott II knocked an RBI single to right field. Dayne Leonard added WVU’s second and third runs in the eighth with a two-run homer to left for his third hit, but a 1-2-3 ninth inning stifled any hope of a comeback and solidified Hegarty’s perfect game.
McMurray and Metcalf each led the game with two RBIs. Ditzenberger was one of two Jayhawks to record a multi-hit day and crossed the plate twice during his 3-for-4 day. Upshaw was the other, finishing 2-for-4 with a run batted in.
Leonard and Scott II were the only Mountaineers with more than one hit, as Scott II finished with two on the day. Leonard also added a double along with his home run.
Kansas takes the series opener for its third conference win of the season, keeping its Big 12 Tournament hopes alive through the weekend and improving to 3-10 in the league. WVU takes a hit in the standings as its league mark drops to 7-6, sliding it into sixth place behind Oklahoma.
WVU and Kansas square off at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. Ben Hampton (6-3, 3.97 ERA) will take the mound for West Virginia against Cole Larsen (1-6, 6.67) on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.