Big East

WVU Sweeps Texas as Bats Stay Hot

May 8, 2016

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University baseball team swept Texas with a 9-5 victory as the offense stayed hot on Sunday afternoon at Monongalia County Ballpark.

In the three-game series sweep, the Mountaineers (27-19, 11-9 Big 12) outscored the Longhorns (21-27, 9-12) 34-14 and out-hit them 38-22. WVU posted a .369 batting average to UT’s .218. West Virginia’s bullpen held Texas to one run on four hits in 9.1 innings, while WVU scored 14 runs on 18 hits off the UT bullpen in 13 innings.

“We took away the strength of their team, their three starting pitchers are as good as anyone in the league,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “We scored early in all three games, so that neutralized everything that they’re about, the way we came out and took the game to them. (Aside from the first two innings Friday, there wasn’t) any point this entire weekend where we didn’t have a lead. That enables you to be looser, a little more aggressive. That was a great weekend for us.”

It was the third three-game sweep in Big 12 Conference play for WVU since joining the league in 2013. It is West Virginia’s fourth sweep of the year, along with a three-game sweep at UNLV (Feb. 26-28), a two-game sweep at Kansas (March 25-26) and a sweep of the season series against in-state rival Marshall (April 5 and 27).

“It’s hard to put into words where we are right now,” added Mazey “When we joined the Big 12 four years ago, I think everybody was holding their breath, waiting to see how this whole thing was going to go with the baseball program. I think right now, people can look around and say ‘we belong in this league.’ We’re beating some of the most storied traditions in all of college baseball. We’re just getting started. There are a lot bigger things ahead for Mountaineer baseball.”

For the second consecutive day, WVU jumped out to an early lead with three runs in the first and four in the second to take a 7-1 lead. Just like Saturday, where they rallied to tie it up at 6-6, the Longhorns fought back with three runs in the third and one in the fourth to get to within two at 7-5. West Virginia would not allow the visitors to get any closer though, as sophomore right-handed starter Conner Dotson threw a scoreless fifth and sixth innings before the bullpen took care of the rest.

Dotson was making his first start of the season and eighth of his career. While he allowed five runs, four of them earned, on seven hits in 6.0 innings, he recovered nicely from a three-run third inning with a scoreless fifth and sixth. He earned his fifth win of the season.

Sunday’s offensive outburst, which featured nine runs on 10 hits and used the help of three Longhorn errors, was led by junior Jackson Cramer’s three hits and three RBIs. Freshman Darius Hill added three hits, drove in two runs and scored twice, while freshman Ivan Vera had two hits, one RBI and two runs scored.
The scoring began in the first inning, when freshman Braden Zarbnisky and sophomore Kyle Davis led off with back-to-back walks. After a wild pitch, Zarbnisky scored on Hill’s sacrifice fly. Vera followed with a single to score Davis and advanced to second on an error. The error set up Cramer, who singled to score Vera.

Texas answered with a run in the top of the second, but the Mountaineers responded right back with four runs in the bottom half.

A walk to freshman Kyle Gray again began the inning, and Zarbnisky walked after Gray advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Back-to-back singles by Davis and Hill scored Gray and Zarbnisky. Davis scored the third run of the inning when Vera reached on a fielder’s choice. Cramer then walked, which ended UT starter Kyle Johnston’s afternoon. Junior Ray Guerrini followed with a double to bring home Vera for the final run of the inning.

WVU took a 7-1 lead into the third inning when Texas’ Zane Gurwitz launched a three-run home run to cut the lead to 7-4. UT added another run in the top of the fourth on a sacrifice fly to trim the West Virginia advantage to 7-5.

The Mountaineers would not let the Longhorns to get any closer and answered in the bottom of the fourth. Hill doubled, and with two outs scored on Cramer’s single up the middle.

After Dotson held UT off the scoreboard in the fifth and sixth innings, WVU added a run in the bottom half of the sixth, the final tally of the game. Cramer again drove in Hill with a single after the freshman singled with two outs.

With a 9-5 lead, Dotson’s day was over and the bullpen was called into action. Once again, it stepped up in a big way.

Junior righty Jackson entered in the seventh inning with a runner on and no outs. Making his third appearance of the series, Sigman retired the first three batters he faced to get out of the inning. In the eighth, a runner reached on an error, but that was it. In 2.0 innings, Sigman did not allow a hit and struck out one.

Senior right-hander Blake Smith pitched a scoreless ninth inning to seal the victory and the sweep.
NOTES: WVU improved to 27-19 on the season, 11-9 in Big 12 play and 16-10 at home … WVU is 8-4 all-time against Texas and has won three of the four series played between the two teams … The sweep of Texas is the Mountaineers’ third three-game sweep of a Big 12 opponent since they joined the Big 12 in 2013 (Kansas in 2013 and Kansas State in 2014) … This season, West Virginia also swept Kansas in a two-game series (March 25-26) and UNLV in a three-game series (Feb. 26-28), both on the road … The Mountaineers have won five in a row, tied for their longest winning streak of the season, and eight of their last nine games … WVU scored a run in the first inning for the 16th time this season and scored before its opponent for the 27th time … Sophomore Conner Dotson made his first start of the season and eighth of his career … Junior Jackson Sigman made his third appearance of the series and pitched 2.0 scoreless innings on Sunday … In 5.0 innings against UT, Sigman allowed no runs on just one hit with four strikeouts.
Single game tickets for the 2016 WVU baseball season are on sale now. Fans can join the excitement of WVU baseball and contribute to the home field advantage at Monongalia County Ballpark by calling 1-800-WVU GAME, purchasing tickets at WVUGAME.com or visiting the Mountaineer Ticket Office at Gate A of Monongalia County Ballpark. More information on single game tickets and can be found at WVUsports.com.

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