Blaine Traxel returned to form Saturday afternoon on the road at Baylor. After not going further than five innings in each of his past five starts, Traxel looked more like the pitcher Mountaineer fans watched at the beginning of the season.
For the first time since March 25, Traxel went the distance. He pitched a complete game, his fifth of the year, and was masterful in doing so.
With Traxel setting the tone on the mound, No. 18 West Virginia (32-11, 10-4 Big 12) extended its win streak to seven consecutive games, and defeated last-place Baylor 10-0 in the middle game of this weekend’s three-game series.
Traxel pitched 1-2-3 frames in each of the opening three innings, and faced just two batters over the minimum through the fifth. The California native picked up a pair of strikeouts in the first inning. One came on a sharp-breaking change-up that dove underneath the batter’s swing and just over his shoe tops on the way to Logan Sauve’s mitt behind home plate.
A stiff wind in Waco aided the Mountaineer starter on a pair of long flyouts. The closest call came in the sixth inning, when Braden Barry caught what looked like a go-ahead home run on the warning track in right-center field.
Overall, Traxel pitched five three-up-three-down frames. He held Baylor scoreless, and allowed just six hits while striking out six and not issuing a free pass. Baylor failed to get a runner into scoring position at any point in the contest due to Traxel’s dominance.
Offensively, West Virginia did not struggle to get runners on base, though the Mountaineers struggled to bring them around to score for much of the game. WVU left at least one runner on base in each of the opening five innings, multiple runners on in the top of the first, second and third, and the bases loaded in the first. The Mountaineers left a total of 13 runners on base in the contest.
JJ Wetherholt, who returned to manning second base defensively in this game for the first time in two weeks, was solely responsible for West Virginia’s run production for the majority of this ballgame. Wetherholt plated a run on an RBI groundout in the second inning. The Mountaineers led 1-0 until the top of the seventh, when the midseason All-American led off the frame with a solo home run to right field. Wetherholt’s tenth round-tripper of the year was one of his three hits on the day.
WVU led 2-0 through seven innings, but the lineup came through in the final two frames.
West Virginia scored three runs in the top of the eighth inning without swinging the bat. A walk, a hit by pitch, and a run-scoring balk produced tallies on the scoreboard for WVU in the inning.
Grant Hussey extended the lead with a solo home run to lead off the ninth. It was his team-leading 11th homer on the year, and seventh in the month of April. The Mountaineers scored four more runs in the inning after that, with all four coming in to score with two outs. A dropped fly ball with the bases loaded allowed three runs to cross home plate on what should’ve been the final out of the inning.
Wetherholt and Barry combined for six of WVU’s eight hits on the day. Mountaineer hitters drew ten walks and four hit by pitches. Landon Wallace was drilled three times in the game.
Randy Mazey’s crew has secured its fourth series victory in Big 12 play. It will have a chance at a sweep for the third straight weekend on Sunday with Robby Porco on the mound. First pitch in the series finale is set for Noon ET.