West Virginia earned its first sweep of the season after defeating Morehead State, 4-2, to take the second half of a two-game series.
The Mountaineers got their bats going, snagging the win after hitting a pair of homers offensively, then getting a strong performance from the bullpen to close it out.
“The last couple of days have felt like it was the freest our players have played,” said acting skipper Steve Sabins. “They looked a little calmer, a little bit more confident, so that was really nice to see.”
Morehead State freshman Jackson Feltner started the scoring off with an RBI double that scored Jack Gardner from first. Gardner later scored in the sixth when he was walked home from third.
Paul McIntosh and Victor Scott gave WVU the bulk of its scoring with a couple of home runs. Scott’s gave WVU the lead in the bottom of the fourth, while McIntosh’s came as insurance in the bottom of the seventh.
McIntosh, who normally plays catcher, started this game at left field and added a sac fly in the fourth for WVU’s first score.
West Virginia got another big day from freshman Mikey Kluska, who added a trio of hits in four at-bats from the shortstop position. That brings his hit total up to 11 in the five games since the team’s COVID-19 pause, the most in that span.
“Mikey does some things that are unusual for a freshman, and it really starts with how he trains, he’s got an unbelievable plan, and confidence and maturity,” Sabins said.
Freshman righty Carlson Reed started and lasted three innings for WVU, giving up two hits and striking out two in the process. Tyler Chadwick got the win in an inning of work, but was one of five Mountaineer pitchers to contribute to the relief effort.
Madison Jeffrey earned the save after striking out the top of the ninth to end the contest.
Of course, this contest was just the beginning of the temporary Morehead State-West Virginia rivalry, as the two schools gear up for a first round meeting in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on Friday night.
“I mean, if the Mountaineers win, everyone’s happy at the end of the day,” Scott said after the first victory in the series. “It was great to start off with a win against Morehead [State] today, just going in that’s going to feed into basketball as well.”
WVU now turns its attention to Coastal Carolina, a club they faced in the opening weeks of the season on the road. The Mountaineers are looking for revenge after falling to the Chanticleers, 10-5.
The two programs have developed a small friendly rivalry over the years, as WVU coach Randy Mazey has cultivated a relationship with CCU’s Gary Gilmore. They often compete for recruits and meet annually in the CCU Baseball Tournament.
“That’s why they’re coming to play us here in March, which isn’t something that Coastal normally does so we’re really excited,” Sabins said.
First pitch for the series opener is set for Friday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN+.