WVU baseball keeps on rolling.
The Mountaineers (19-10, 4-1 Big 12) took a series win over Baylor (16-14, 2-6) on Saturday, topping the Bears 8-4 behind an important showing on defense led by starter Ben Hampton. West Virginia earned its fourth straight win and its ninth in its last 10 games.
Lefty starter Ben Hampton (5-2) earned his fifth quality win in his last six starts, working for 7.2 innings and holding the Bears to two runs on six hits. Hampton has been WVU’s most reliable starting arm this season, and the Saturday victory showed exactly why.
“Ben’s been just unbelievable, and we play defense on the days Ben pitches, because of the way Ben pitches,” Mazey said. “He pitches quick, infielders stay locked in, outfielders stay locked in….And he throws a lot of strikes, so he plays a lot of defense.”
WVU assisted Hampton with some timely web gems throughout the contest. Victor Scott II opened the fifth inning with a clutch over-the-shoulder catch at the warning track, then Austin Davis held a Baylor runner on first for a single, preventing him from entering scoring position with a seemingly surefire double.
“Vic’s always just making those crazy plays and AD’s always making those crazy catches, but the cutoff to make it just a single on a base hit, that was huge,” Hampton said.
Baylor did threaten Hampton in the opening inning, however, and put the first run on the board. Jack Pineda started the game with a leadoff double, then eventually scored with the help of an RBI single by Jared McKenzie.
West Virginia took the lead in the bottom of the inning as its first three batters recorded singles, with Scott sending Davis home for the first run of the game, and the first of his four RBIs. McGwire Holbrook added another run with a sacrifice fly to score JJ Wetherholt.
McKenzie tied the contest in the sixth inning with a solo home run, the second of his three RBIs on the day, but West Virginia responded with six straight runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Scott scored two runs with a double to right center to take the lead back for West Virginia and send Baylor starter Kobe Andrade (2-1) off the mound.
Andrade took his first loss of the season after allowing five of WVU’s runs in 5.1 innings on the rubber, but Braden Barry added another run in the sixth off of reliever Brett Garcia to extend the lead.
Scott added his fourth RBI with a sacrifice fly to send Tevin Tucker home, then Holbrook recorded an RBI single to close out WVU’s offense.
For the first time this season, WVU finished the contest without attempting a single steal. The Mountaineers didn’t totally abandon their small ball mentality, utilizing several bunts throughout the game, but they were largely able to get their runs the conventional way, logging nine hits.
“The top of the lineup did their job, and so did the middle,” Mazey said.
Davis, WVU’s leadoff hitter, led WVU with a 3 for 4 day, scoring three runs in the process, while Scott added his four RBIs on a 2 for 4 day. Holbrook, the cleanup hitter, added a trio of RBIs. JJ Wetherholt also finished 2 for 4.
Zach Ottinger recorded his first save of the season for WVU.
McKenzie was the only Bear with multiple hits, going 3 for 4 with his homer.
WVU rises to first place in the Big 12 with the victory after opening its conference schedule with two series wins. It looks to close out its first sweep in the third game of the series on Sunday.
Zach Bravo (3-0, 4.13 ERA) will start for West Virginia in the series finale, and he will face righty Will Rigney (2-0, 4.40 ERA) of Baylor. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. ET and it will be shown on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.