West Virginia’s weekend pitching struggles continued on Saturday as the Mountaineers gave up seven runs in the first four innings to fall to Baylor in Waco, 7-3.
The loss for West Virginia marks the Mountaineers’ second straight Big 12 series loss, while it is Baylor’s first victory in the Big 12 series since May 2019. Of course, much of the delay for the Bears was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however they began this season dropping their first two series against Texas and TCU in March.
The Bears got to WVU starter Adam Tulloch (0-3) early, putting up three runs in the first and second innings, two of which were earned. Tulloch made it to the fourth inning, which proved to be the decider, before Randy Mazey switched to reliever Skylar Gonzalez, who finished out the last two-thirds of the inning and allowed the Bears’ final unearned run.
Three of WVU’s five hits came in the second inning, but a peculiar play caused the Mountaineers to miss out on additional runs. Kevin Brophy hit a ground ball that was fielded for a double play, but he beat the play at first — until runner Vince Ippoliti was called for interference. They were both ruled out, while the other two runners, Hudson Byorick and Paul McIntosh, were sent back to their orginal bases.
Matt McCormick got WVU on the board in the ensuing at-bat with at three-run home run, scoring Byorick, who doubled to lead off the inning, and McIntosh, who walked.
McCormick added another RBI in the fourth, putting WVU ahead with an RBI single — but the Bears came back in the bottom and took the lead with four runs.
The bulk of Baylor’s runs came from Andy Thomas, who sent three of his teammates across the plate to add to his team-high RBI total. His second and third RBIs came off a double in the fourth, one of two extra-base hits by the Bears, along with another RBI double from Tre Robinson in the first.
WVU’s early offensive success Baylor starter Blake Helton a similar treatment to that of Tulloch — he was pulled after 3.2 innings, having allowed four earned runs on five hits while striking out four. He was not awarded the win, which was earned by reliever Jimmy Winston (4-2), while Tulloch was given the loss for his five-hit, three-run outing.
Winston led the Baylor bullpen to a strong close, as he, Logan Freeman and Luke Boyd combined to no-hit the last 5.1 innings of the game.
WVU lefty Jake Carr settled into his new role in the bullpen, adding three no-hit innings with three walks. Madison Jeffrey closed for WVU with a hit allowed and a strikeout.
The loss drops West Virginia to 11-14 on the season, with a 3-4 mark in the Big 12. Baylor improves to 21-10 overall and 2-5 in the league.
The series finale is set for 12:30 p.m. ET in Waco on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. Freshman lefty Ben Hampton (2-0, 2.63 ERA) is set to square off on the rubber for WVU against Baylor senior righty Hayden Kettler (3-1, 3.90 ERA).