The West Virginia University baseball team completed a three-game sweep of Kent State with a 9-7 victory on Sunday afternoon at Monongalia County Ballpark.
The Mountaineers (9-5) scored a season-high nine runs on nine hits en route to their fourth consecutive victory. WVU scored in five consecutive innings, highlighted by a five-run sixth inning that came after the Golden Flashes (4-10) erased a deficit and took the lead for the second time in three innings.
“Kent State is a great program, and they have a chance to win their league,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “For us to win three games over a team that will probably win their league, that’s going to give us some confidence moving forward. We are 5-0 at home now and our guys are taking to playing here at home.”
The West Virginia offense scored single runs in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings, taking a 2-0 lead after three and regaining a 4-3 advantage in the fifth. After Kent State scored two in the top of the sixth to take a 5-4 lead, the Mountaineers answered with five in the bottom half to go up 9-5. KSU scored two in the top of the seventh, but could not get any closer.
WVU’s five-run sixth was highlighted by a three-run home run by junior first baseman Kevin Brophy, his second of the season and eighth of his career. Sophomore second baseman Tyler Doanes also homered, a solo shot in the third inning, his first of the year and second of his career.
“The offense hasn’t been clicking, but we’re showing signs of starting to do that,” Mazey said. “The pitching and defense have kept us in a lot of games while we are waiting for the offense to come. It’s starting to turn in to baseball weather and we’re starting to turn into a pretty good team.”
Doanes led the team with a career-high-tying three hits and had a season-best three RBIs, including an infield single in the sixth to drive in the eventual game-winning run. Brophy had two hits and five RBIs, both season-high totals.
Senior third baseman Ivan Gonzalez added a pair of hits in two at-bats and had two walks with three runs scored. In total, seven of WVU’s nine starters had a hit or scored a run.
On the mound, freshman right-hander Ryan Bergert earned his first career win, while junior righty Sam Kessler picked up his third save of the season. In 2.0 innings, Bergert gave up two runs on three hits with two strikeouts and no walks. Kessler pitched a scoreless ninth inning.
Junior right-handed starter Kade Strowd allowed five runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and two walks in 5.0 innings pitched.
West Virginia left four runners on base, while Kent State stranded 10. The Golden Flashes committed two errors and the Mountaineers had one.
WVU got the scoring started in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by Brophy to score Gonzalez. West Virginia made it 2-0 in the third on Doanes’ homer to left field.
Solo home runs by Pete Schuler and Nick Elsen and a sacrifice fly gave Kent State a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning.
The Mountaineers tied it up in the bottom half of the frame, as Brophy doubled home Gonzalez, and took a 4-3 lead in the fifth inning courtesy of a Doanes double that scored freshman left fielder Austin Davis.
Kent State answered with a pair in the sixth inning to regain a 5-4 lead. Both runs came on sacrifice flies, after Bergert relieved Strowd on the mound with two on.
West Virginia came right back though with a five-run bottom half to take a 9-5 lead. With two on after an error and a walk, Brophy’s mammoth home run to left gave the Mountaineers a 7-5 lead. Freshman shortstop Tevin Tucker and Davis both walked, and Doanes scored Tucker on an infield single and junior center fielder Brandon White hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Davis.
A two-run home run by Elsen made it 9-7 in the seventh, but KSU could not get any closer. Freshman lefty Beau Lowery got the final two outs in the eighth to strand two runners on, and Kessler stranded two on in the night to earn the save.