GRANVILLE, W.Va. — When West Virginia takes the field at home, the roar of the crowd is usually combined with a blast from the Mountaineer mascot. On Friday, the rifle appeared to jam as the Mountaineers trotted out on the turf. It was a minor gaff that foreshadowed a rough day on the diamond for WVU.
The Mountaineers (37-13, 13-6 Big 12) dropped game one of their series against Texas Tech (35-16, 10-9 Big 12) 5-2 Friday evening at Monongalia County Ballpark. West Virginia recorded six hits, three of which were tallied in the first two innings.
“They got one big hit with runners on base, and we never seemed to [do the same],” head coach Randy Mazey said. “It’s baseball.”
WVU struck first with a two-out, two RBI double from Ellis Garcia for a quick 2-0 lead in the second inning. Garcia has now doubled in each of the last three Big 12 series. The Red Raiders responded with one of their own in the third inning, then they took the lead in the fourth with a Kevin Bazzel solo home run, and an RBI groundout off Ty Coleman’s bat, to take a 3-2 lead.
WVU only recorded one hit in the four innings that followed. The Mountaineers tried unsuccessfully to manufacture a run down 3-2 in the seventh with a runner on first, but Tevin Tucker failed to lay down a bunt on three separate attempts. With the count 0-2, Tucker fouled off a bunt-attempt for strike three. Later in the inning, with two runners in scoring position, Braden Barry received a pitch-clock violation with two strikes in the count. The inning ended in bathetic fashion.
“Those were just bad breaks,” Mazey said.
Ben Hampton (5-4, 4.04 ERA) started on the mound for WVU, and he was as efficient in the loss as he has been in recent wins. Hampton allowed three earned runs on four hits in five complete innings. He allowed fewer than five hits in just two prior starts this season. Aidan Major tossed three innings of scoreless relief before suffering a pair of runs in the ninth inning.
“We held the best offensive team in the league to five runs,” Mazey said. “Normally we win that game. If we would’ve scored nine, we’d be talking about how good [Ben Hampton] and [Aidan Major] did. The fact that we scored two doesn’t change the fact that we pitched pretty well.”
Game two is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. Saturday in Granville. WVU No. 2 starter Blaine Traxel (6-4, 3.32 ERA) — who served his one-game suspension Tuesday against Pitt — will face off against Red Raider righty Trendan Parish (3-1, 4.65 ERA).