Kearns Leads WVU Over Baylor in Big 12 Opener - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Kearns Leads WVU Over Baylor in Big 12 Opener

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Isaiah Kearns deals eight innings of one-run baseball for WVU in an 11-1 win over Baylor at the Big 12 tournament. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle) Isaiah Kearns deals eight innings of one-run baseball for WVU in an 11-1 win over Baylor at the Big 12 tournament. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Isaiah Kearns will tell you he is not a morning person, but you would never know it based on the results of Wednesday’s opener in the Big 12 tournament.

The freshman right-handed pitcher got his fifth victory of the season in his first postseason action. Despite his proclamation that he isn’t a morning person, Kearns hurled eight innings of work for the Mountaineers, who walked off with an 11-1 win in a game shortened by the run rule.

“Wow. That’s all I can say about that one,” West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey said Wednesday morning. “That’s as good of a pitching performance as the Mountaineers have had this entire season. To go out and do what he did today coming off of a short week and enabling us to get out of the first game without using any of the bullpen and turn around our weekend starters now, that’s just unbelievable what he did today.”

Kearns got all of the help he needed from his bats right out of the gate when the Mountaineers exploded at the plate in the bottom of the first inning.

Kyle Gray led off the frame with a single up the middle before an Ivan Gonzalez single advanced Gray to third base. With men on the corners, Darius Hill flied out to right, scoring Gray from third.

The rest of the damage came with two outs. Three-straight singles from Kyle Davis, Braden Zarbnisky and Jimmy Galusky sent three more runs across the plate for a 4-0 advantage as the Mountaineers hit through their entire lineup.

Gray returned to the batter’s box at the top of the order and broke the game wide open. The second baseman went down 0-2 in the count, but on the third offering, he connected down the right field line. The bases had been loaded when he stepped to the plate, but by the time Gray stopped running, he was standing on third base and all three of his teammates were on their way to the dugout.

The three-run triple gave West Virginia a 7-0 lead with just one inning in the books. In total, the Mountaineers sent 11 batters to the plate with seven runs on six hits in the frame.

“It felt great,” Kearns said after the game. “Whenever we got runs on the board, that was a huge confidence booster for any pitcher, really. I think it just helped me settle in better.”

West Virginia added runs in the third and fourth innings for a nine-run advantage and in the bottom of the eighth, the Mountaineers were able to close out a win early thanks to the run-rule.

Cole Austin came to the plate with no outs and Chase Illig on third holding 10-1 lead in the eighth. A single through the left side of the infield was exactly what WVU needed and as Illig came home, his teammates trotted out of the dugout to meet him.

The win should signal a welcome change of pace for the Mountaineers, who avoid another 9 a.m. CT start as they play Oklahoma State in a 4 p.m. first pitch Thursday evening.

“Believe it or not, that’s huge incentive for these kids to win the game and get to sleep in the next day because that 6 a.m. breakfast for these kids is pretty tough,” Mazey said. “They’re going to go get off their feet, get a good meal and sleep a lot of this afternoon, I’m sure, and get to sleep in tomorrow.”

The Cowboys, the 8-seed in the tournament, upset No. 1 Texas Tech by a final of 3-0 Wednesday. 

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