RICHMOND, Va. — Getting two stellar performances out of its starting pitchers, the West Virginia baseball team won twice on Saturday, defeating VCU, 8-5, and Canisius, 3-2, at The Diamond. The Mountaineers improve to 6-3 on the season while the Rams fall to 2-7 and the Golden Griffins drop to 2-4.
Against VCU, fifth-year senior Blaine Traxel threw his second consecutive complete game. After allowing five runs in the first three innings, the Burbank, California native retired 21 of the next the next 23 batters to end the game. Overall, he finished with 10 strikeouts, the most for a Mountaineer pitcher this season.
Not to be outdone, junior Ben Hampton threw 7.2 innings against Canisius, scattering around eight hits while striking out seven and walking just one. He allowed just one run in the eighth inning and settled for his third no decision of the season.
“Any time you can win both ends of a doubleheader, it’s a good day,” said head coach Randy Mazey. “The starting pitching was great again. If they continue to do that, we’ll be in every game. We had a lot of clutch two-out hits today which was huge. Guys stepped up when we needed them to.”
In game one against VCU, the Rams jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings before the Mountaineers answered with three in the third on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch and a two-run single from freshman Ellis Garcia.
The Rams hit a solo home run in the home half of the third, but WVU took the lead in the fourth as redshirt-senior Dayne Leonard hit a three-run home run, his first of the season.
Traxel was in cruise control after that, only allowing one two baserunners the rest of the game, one on a double and the other on an error. Sophomore JJ Wetherholt provided some extra cushion in the ninth with a two-run home run, his team-leading third of the season.
In game two, the Mountaineers took the early lead in the second as junior Landon Wallace hit a double to the right-center field gap, allowing freshman Logan Sauve to score all the way from first.
Wetherholt doubled the WVU lead in the fifth with a two-out single to score Wallace.
Hampton pitched from the stretch for most of the game but got the outs when he needed them with some help from his defense. In the fourth, junior Braden Barry hosed down a runner at the plate with a seed from center field on a potential sacrifice fly, putting an end to the threat. Hampton got another double play the more conventional way in the seventh to keep the Golden Griffins off the board.
Hampton came back out for the eighth and left with two outs and a runner on first, but the bullpen could not hold it as Canisius used a single, an error, and two wild pitches to tie up the game.
West Virginia responded in the home half of the eighth, however, as Wetherholt singled and advanced to second on an error by the center fielder before Leonard drove him home with a single up the middle.
The ninth inning got a little dicey for the Mountaineers as Canisius put runners on first and third with no one out. Redshirt-senior Noah Short came out of the bullpen and struck out his only batter before junior Carlson Reed entered and induced a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
The Mountaineers will continue their weekend in Virginia tomorrow as they take on the Richmond Spiders to put an end to their season-opening stretch of facing teams that made the 2022 NCAA Tournament. First pitch from Pitt Field is set for 12 p.m.
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