By Ryan Decker
MORGANTOWN – Playing in Monongalia County Ballpark for possibly the final time in 2017, West Virginia (31-20) welcomed in rival Pittsburgh (22-28) Tuesday night to end the home portion of the regular season for the Mountaineers.
Freshman Isaiah Kearns made his second start of the year against Pitt, looked to have similar or better success than he had when he faced the Panthers in late March.
Kearns surpassed the early spring start, going 5 2/3 innings on the mound, giving up just three hits and striking out seven in the Mountaineers 2-0 win over the Panthers.
West Virginia’s first good scoring opportunity came in the bottom of the fourth, when the Mountaineers got runners on the corners with just one out. However, Pitt reliever Kevin Henriksen settled down, getting Jimmy Galusky to line out and then striking out Chase Illig to end the inning.
Kearns was in control early on, striking out six and only allowing two hits through his first five innings on the mound.
Kearns sat down at least one hitter on strikes in each of the first four frames, and multiple hitters in the second and third.
The freshman’s outing was cut short after allowing a two-out double to Frank Maldonado in the sixth, giving was to senior reliever Jackson Sigman.
Sigman induced a groundout to keep the Panthers off the board, keeping the two teams locked in a scoreless tie.
Kyle Davis would be the Mountaineer to change the score.
Davis tripled to the wall in left-center field, allowing Braden Zarbnisky to score all the way from first. Davis scored moments later on an RBI-single by Darius Hill that gave WVU a 2-0 lead with zero outs in the sixth.
That would be it for West Virginia though, as RJ Freure – Pitt’s fifth pitcher of the day – was able to limit the Mountaineers to just the two runs in the inning.
Davis finished the game 2-for-4 at the plate. Hill and Jackson Cramer also had multi-hit games.
Sigman picked up where Kearns left off, continuing to limit the Panther offense. The sidearmer struck out three of the first five batters he faced.
He went the rest of the way, earning the save. Kearns picked up the win.
On the Wright foot
With his double to left field in the fifth inning, Pittsburgh’s Jacob Wright extended his team leading on-base streak to 21 consecutive games. It also extended his hitting streak to nine games.
Isaiah Kearns entered Tuesday’s game as the team’s leader in run support, at over eight runs per game. However, the Mountaineers did not score while he was on the mound, the first time that happened this year.
First time for everything
Although the Mountaineers and Panthers are longtime rivals, this is just the first time that WVU has defeated Pitt at Mon. County Ballpark.
Off to Austin
West Virginia will end the regular season this weekend on the road in Austin, Texas against the Longhorns. Texas (31-19) entered Tuesday with an RPI of 23. The Longhorns are struggling recently, though, losing three of their last four.