Coming off two straight complete games, fifth-year senior Blaine Traxel settled for 8.0 innings on Saturday against Minnesota to lead the West Virginia baseball team over the Golden Gophers, 7-2, at Wagener Field at Monongalia County Ballpark. The Mountaineers improve to 9-4 and secure their third straight winning weekend while Minnesota falls to 2-13.
“We’re starting to play pretty good,” said head coach Randy Mazey. “We faced a guy throwing 100 and that’s as good of guy as you’re going to see and I thought we stood in there pretty well against him. Traxel did what Traxel does, he throws a bunch of strikes and you never know what’s coming. That’s why he is who he is.”
Traxel allowed just two runs while striking out eight and walking just one to improve to 3-1 on the season. Freshman Carson Estridge made his Mountaineer debut in the ninth, closing out the game with a hitless inning.
At the plate, redshirt-senior Dayne Leonard and junior Braden Barry each had two hits while sophomore JJ Wetherholt reached base three times with a hit and two walks. Redshirt-senior Caleb McNeely hit his fourth home run of the season and Sam White added two RBI. Barry, Wetherholt, and redshirt-senior Tevin Tucker also had two stolen bases each.
The game started with two scoreless innings before the Mountaineers got to hard-throwing right-hander George Klassen. Barry singled with two outs and stole second before Wetherholt smacked a 99 mph fastball back up the middle at 107 mph to put WVU up 1-0.
The big inning for the Mountaineers came in the fifth as they scored five runs. Tucker scored the first run by himself by walking and stealing second. When the throw got away, Tucker got up and never stopped until he slid home safely.
After a wild pitch added another run, Leonard knocked in one more with a single before White delivered a two-run double to make it 6-0 after five innings.
Minnesota got two runs back in the sixth, but McNeely answered in the seventh with a screaming line drive home run down the left-field line to produce the final score.
West Virginia will look for the sweep tomorrow afternoon. First pitch has been moved up one hour from its originally scheduled time and will now begin at 12 p.m.