By Ryan Decker
With March Madness on the hard court in full swing and already giving sports fans numerous upsets, the West Virginia baseball team (10-8, 2-1) tried to pull off an upset of its own Sunday on the diamond in Waco, Texas.
As the Mountaineers were going for the three-game sweep, Baylor (16-3, 1-2) starting pitcher Cody Bradford was given the task of getting the tenth-ranked Bears back in the win column.
Bradford won the battle, and Baylor won the game 5-1, behind a strong outing by its starting pitcher and a big day at the plate by Kameron Esthay.
Bradford (3-1) pitched to just four batters over the minimum in his 6.2 innings on the mound.
He retired the Mountaineers in order in the second, third and sixth innings, and only allowed one runner to reach scoring position prior to pitching in the seventh.
In the meantime, West Virginia starting pitcher Conner Dotson (3-2) struggled to keep Baylor hitters off the base paths, appearing to get rattled after allowing a two-out home run in the first.
Dotson surrendered four walks through the first three innings, and issued a total of five free passes before being relieved from the game.
He was able to pitch out of trouble in the second, but wasn’t as fortunate in the third, giving up a run on a sacrifice fly after a bloop-single loaded the bases. Esthay’s fly out gave Baylor a 2-0 lead.
A pair of walks in the fifth inning put runners on the corners with one out for Esthay, once again up at the plate in a scoring opportunity. He homered for the second time in as many days, sending a long fly to right field that wouldn’t return to the yard.
Esthay finished the day 1 for 3 at the plate, he also drove in four runs on the home run and the sac-fly.
The three-run round tripper gave the Bears a five-run advantage, and knocked Dotson out of the game.
The Flower Mound, Texas native struggled once again on the hill, lasting just 4.1 innings, while giving up five runs on six hits and walking five.
WVU was finally able to scratch across a run against Bradford in the seventh, on a sacrifice fly by Darius Hill.
It was the only run the Mountaineer hitters could muster.
Marques Inman was one of just three WVU players to have a multi-hit game on Sunday. Inman batted 3 for 4 at the plate, with one of those hits being a double, for his third three-hit game of the year.
Kyle Davis and Jackson Cramer had two hits apiece. Cole Austin tallied a lone base knock giving him a total of eight hits in the series.
The loss is the first of the year for West Virginia against a nationally ranked team.
Next up for the Mountaineers, they are scheduled to travel to Happy Valley to take on Penn State (6-10). However, that game is in danger of not being played or moved due to inclement weather that’s supposed to develop around the PSU campus.
WVU plays its first home game Friday against against Jacksonville (10-11). First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. You can listen to the broadcast of that game live on 91.7 FM or on u92.wvu.edu.