The WVU baseball team opened up the home season on Tuesday vs. the Pitt Panthers in a non-conference matchup. The Mountaineers beat the Panthers 6-3 with a total of 6 runs, 10 hits, and 0 errors for the day.
Zach Bargeron earned the winning decision for the Mountaineers after limiting the Panthers to just one run on four hits in five innings of work. Michael Bennett picked up the save with a four-inning performance out of the bullpen.
The Mountaineers (13-8, 0-0 in Big 12) have won 10 of their last 14 games coming into Tuesday's matchup, including a win over No. 12 North Carolina last Wednesday.
The Panthers (12-11, 4-5 in the ACC) most recently swept Duke last weekend and is lead offensively by Steven Shellinksy Jr. who is batting .317 with five doubles, two homers, and 12 RBI's. Boo Vasquez leads the team with four home runs and 24 RBI's, while Stephen Vranka, Dylan Wolsonovich and Casey Roche have 17 RBI's a piece.
The game-opening stanza began with a double off the left center field wall Stephen Vranka (SR/Monroeville, Pa.). Out of the two-hole, Dylan Wolsonovich (SO/Ford City, Pa.) bunted a Bargeron offering back to the mound in order to move Vranka to third base. Boo Vazquez (JR/Youngstown, Ohio) then plated Vranka on a sacrifice fly to right field to give Pitt a 1-0 advantage.
West Virginia quickly responded in the bottom of the first inning with Taylor Munden singling through the left side to lead off the Mountaineers' at-bat. After Bobby Boyd advanced the lone base runner into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt, Billy Fleming reached on an infield error that allowed Munden to come across home plate, making it a 1-1 ball game.
Top 3rd inning tied 1-1. Pitt catcher Tyler Albert grounded out to the third baseman to start the inning. Followed by a strike out of Stephen Vranka and a base hit by Dylan Wolsonovich. Boo Vasquez popped up to right field to end the inning.
Bottom of the third, shortstop Taylor Munden leads off the inning with a walk. CF Bobby Boyd hits a line drive to right, and Munden advances to second. Second baseman, Billy Flemming, followed with a strikeout.
Third baseman Ryan McBroom followed with a pop up to center. A 2 run single from Shaun Wood puts the Mountaineers up 3-1. This was the difference in the game and the jumping off point for WVU.
At the bottom of the 5th inning Pitt had 4 hits, 2 errors, 1 run and WVU had 3 hits, 3 runs, 0 errors.
The Mountaineers start of the 5th inning with grounding into a double play. Ryan McBroom singles to center. Jacob Rice grounds out to short to end the inning.
In the top of the 6th there was a pitching change for the Mountaineers. Michael Bennett on the mound for WVU.
Bottom 6th t pitching change for the Panthers. Adam Dian on the mound a right-hander from Gibsonia, PA.
Justin Fox reaches 1st on a base hit to right with 2 outs. DH Max Nogay hit by pitch. Taylor Munden 1 run single to left puts the Mountaineers up 4-1.
Michael Bennett came out strong on the mound for the Mountaineers. Starting off the 7th inning with three up three down.
Big 12 Player of the Week, Billy Flemming, battled in the box and pulled out a walk. Followed by a McBroom base hit. Runners at 1st and 2nd. Rice laid down a nice bunt down the third baseline and advances the runners.
Shaun Wood struck out leaving pinch hitter Michael Constanti up to the plate as the snow starts to fall at Hawley Field. Constanti grounds out to third and the Mountaineers leave two on in scoring position to end the inning.
In the top of the 8th, Bennett grounds out two, walks Vasquez and Casey Roche hits a two run home run for the Panthers. The Mountaineers lead by just 1 run, 4-3.
Bottom of the 8th there was a pitching change for the Panthers Jon Danielczyk, a side armed right-hander from Erie, PA on the mound. Standing at 6 foot 5 he is a tall and lanky sight with a unique pitching form.
With 2 outs CF Bobby Boyd gets a base hit will bring in a run and the Mountaineers have a little bit of a cushion with their lead now up 5-3.
Fleming hits a blooper to right field, which will score Boyd, and the Mountaineers are now up 6-3. Jacob Rice lines to 2nd to end the inning.
Heading into the 9th inning the Panthers never battled back. The Mountaineers win their season opener 6-3. Pitt ends the day with 3 runs, 5 hits, and 2 errors.
After the game, WVU head coach Randy Mazey, discusses the game plan with saving Means' arm, winning the home opener, and overcoming the cold weather.
"Its hard to pitch on a cold day, its hard to hit on a cold day," said Mazey.
"I just told the guys we got Baylor this weekend and their calling for miserable weather again, and anytime we have to face weather or travel adversity I feel as if it favors us after all we have been through. Anytime there is adverse conditions, advantage Mountaineers."