Mountaineers stay hot, Down Pitt

Going on a win streak of more than a couple games is hard enough, but the closer that win streak gets to double digits the harder it gets.

West Virginia (32-19) didn’t seem to struggle too much, though, Tuesday night on the road against Pittsburgh (25-24).

Four pitchers combined to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard in all but one inning, while the Mountaineer hitters used a pair of multi-run innings to capture a 10-4 victory for their 10th-straight win.

 

One of those multi-run outputs for WVU came in the second inning.

Ivan Vera led off the inning with a triple to right center field, and the next hitter, Jackson Cramer, drove him in with a double to the opposite field. After each of the next two batters reached to load the bases, Kyle Gray drove in the second run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to right.

Then, for the second time this month, a Mountaineer hitter correctly executed the suicide squeeze. This time around it was Jimmy Galusky who got the bunt down in time for Ray Guerrini to slide across home plate safely.

Kyle Davis added West Virginia’s lead with a leadoff home run in the third, giving the Mountaineers a 4-0 advantage.

Pitt tied the game with four runs in the bottom of the frame, all with two outs in the inning.

Alex Kowalczyk cleared the bases with a three-run double, and then Frank Maldonado singled up the middle allowing Kowalczyk to score the tying run from second.

Starting pitcher Braden Zarbnisky got out of the inning without any further damage, striking out Aaron Schnurbusch to end the inning.

Pittsburgh’s four runs that inning ended up being the only runs the Panthers could score off WVU pitching.

Following Zarbnisky’s three innings on the mound, Ross Vance, B.J. Myers and Blake Smith combined efforts to keep Pitt off the scoreboard. The three relief pitchers were so effective for Randy Mazey, in fact, that they allowed just one hit during their combined six innings of work.

In total, the four WVU pitchers struck out 13 hitters, and multiple Panther hitters were sat down on strikes in five innings. Zarbnisky led the West Virginia staff with five K’s, while Vance had 4, and Myers and Smith each had two.

The Mountaineers knocked Pitt’s starting pitcher Sam Mersing out of the game midway through the fourth, scoring a run to regain the lead on a sac bunt after Galusky reached on a bunt single with one out.

Guerrini gave his battery mates an insurance run with a solo home run to start the 8th inning.

And had Guerrini’s blast not been enough to put the Panthers away, the WVU hitters combining to score four runs on three hits in the ninth was.

Vera loaded the bases by reaching safely on a slap, bunt single. Cramer drove in a run on a sac fly to right, and Darius Hill slid across home just ahead of the tag a play later on a bunt by Guerrini.

Two hitters later, Gray brought the final two runners, Vera and Guerrini, home with a two-run double, giving West Virginia a 10-4 lead.

Galusky and Vera led all hitters going 4-for-5 at the plate. Both Cramer and Gray had multi-RBI games.

With the win, West Virginia now owns the longest active win streak in the country at 10 games.

The Mountaineers have also scored five or more runs in 14 of their last 15 games, as the offense continues to score at a high rate.

West Virginia ends the regular season this weekend against Texas Tech.

The Big 12 Championship begins next Wednesday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City. All of WVU’s games in OKC will be broadcasted live on 91.7 FM.

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