Attempting to stave off an opening-series sweep, three different West Virginia players homered Sunday afternoon against Georgia Southern pitching.
Braden Barry’s three-run blast in the fifth inning not only hit off the picture of himself on the scoreboard in left field, but also put the game out of reach, giving the Mountaineers an 8-4 lead.
In all, Randy Mazey’s crew tallied 13 runs on 10 hits at the plate in their best offensive showing in the early part of the season. West Virginia (1-2) recorded its first win of the year by a count of 13-4.
The Eagles took a two-run lead in the first inning on a longball by Noah Ledford. The homer came off a pitch thrown by Grant Siegel, the Tulane transfer making his first appearance with the Mountaineers. Siegel settled down after that, allowing a total of three runs on three hits and three walks across five innings of work. He also struck out three, becoming the first WVU pitcher to earn a winning decision on the mound this year.
WVU’s bats quickly made up for the early deficit.
Transfer outfielder Landon Wallace punctuated an impressive opening weekend with his new club. The newcomer from Nevada blasted a three-run bomb to left-center field to give West Virginia a one-run lead.
Both teams added a run in the third. JUCO product Caleb McNeely sent a no-doubter over the fence in left to put the Mountaineers ahead by two.
West Virginia led 4-3 entering the fifth inning. And the Mountaineers separated themselves from the Eagles at that point.
Batting with the bases loaded, shortstop Tevin Tucker dove in a run with a sacrifice fly on the first pitch he saw in the at-bat. That flipped the lineup card back to the top, bringing Barry to the plate. Barry, hitting with a full count and two down, powered a pitch way over the fence and off the scoreboard in left field, plating three runs and giving West Virginia an 8-3 lead.
Barry was one of three Mountaineer hitters, joined by McNeely and Wallace, to drive in three runs in the game. He was also one of five WVU hitters to score twice.
Georgia Southern threatened to have a big inning of its own following the seventh-inning stretch.
Trailing by five, the Eagles loaded the bases with just one out in the frame. WVU reliever Jake Carr entered and picked up a big strikeout, punching out Ledford, the only batter he faced. Noah Short then entered in relief of Carr to get the final out. Carr walked in a run but recorded an inning-ended strikeout on a full count to quell the Georgia Southern rally attempt.
West Virginia’s bullpen was solid in relief of Siegel. The Mountaineer pen pitched four innings, allowing just one run on four hits and striking out six, though they did walk two and hit a batter.
WVU added four insurance runs in the top of the ninth to put the game completely out of reach. Dayne Leonard plated a run on a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded. McNeely drove in two more runs on a single to left, and then scored one batter later on a passed ball.
Seven different WVU batters recorded a hit Sunday. The team combined for five extra-base hits and stole four bases.
The Mountaineers say on the road and will take on No. 13 Maryland beginning at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.