Junior left-handed pitcher Jackson Wolf of the West Virginia University baseball team tossed seven shutout innings, while redshirt senior outfielder/right-handed pitcher Braden Zarbnisky tallied a two-run single and earned the save in the Mountaineers’ 3-0, season-opening win over Jacksonville on Friday night at John Sessions Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida.
Wolf allowed no runs on just one hit, striking out eight on 97 pitches and earning the victory to improve to 1-0. The Gahanna, Ohio, native retired 18 straight Dolphins at one point during the dominant outing on the mound.
Zarbnisky, meanwhile, went 2-for-5 at the plate and got WVU on the board with a two-out, two-run single in the seventh inning. Later, he put the finishing touches on the win by coming on in the ninth to work his way out of a two-on, one-out jam.
The Marietta, Georgia, native struck out a pair to slam the door and help WVU grab the win.
“That was not an easy game; (Jacksonville) can really pitch,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “Jackson showed a level of toughness that I haven’t seen out of him, going out there and answering every time they got some momentum because we didn’t score when we had guys in scoring position. He proceeded to go 1-2-3 in the following inning. If he pitches like that every time out, we’re going to win a lot of games with him on the mound.”
The Mountaineers (1-0) finished with three runs on seven hits, while JU (0-1) had no runs on three hits. Both teams committed one error.
WVU stranded runners on second and third in the top of the first before Wolf got to work. The left-handed punched out two in the bottom of the second and struck out the side in the third.
After West Virginia left a man on first in the top of the fourth inning, it threatened again in the fifth. With one out, however, freshman outfielder Victor Scott was tagged out at third on a fielder’s choice, before a strikeout ended the charge.
The Mountaineers recorded the first two runs of the game in the top of the seventh after senior infielder Kevin Brophy singled to right, while Scott was hit by a pitch. From there, Zarbnisky hit a line drive to left-center field, giving WVU a 2-0 advantage.
Wolf’s night concluded after the bottom of the seventh inning, where he allowed his lone hit of the evening. He worked 6.2 innings of no-hit ball before a JU double to the wall.
In the eighth, WVU added to its lead when Scott registered a sacrifice fly, scoring McIntosh to make it 3-0. That’s when sophomore right-hander Zach Ottinger entered the contest in relief. He went 1.1 innings, allowing no runs on two hits with two strikeouts.
After JU showed signs of a ninth-inning rally, though, Zarbnisky took the ball and got the final two outs, despite the Dolphins sending the tying run to the plate.
Along with Zarbnisky and Scott, Brophy finished 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Next up, the two teams meet for the second of the two squads’ season-opening three-game series on Saturday. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. ET.
NOTES: Wolf’s eight strikeouts are a career high … with Friday night’s save, Zarbnisky is now No. 9 in WVU history in career saves (9) … the Mountaineers earned a season-opening win for the third time since 2015 … Friday’s game marked the WVU debuts of sophomore infielder Ryan Archibald, freshman catcher/infielder Matt McCormick, Scott and freshman infielder Dominic Ragazzo … WVU now leads the all-time series over Jacksonville, 4-3.