MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The difference between a team struggling to find consistency and one hitting on all cylinders was sharply defined on Friday night as Monongalia County Ballpark as eighth-ranked Texas Tech dominated West Virginia in a 7-2 win on a chilly West Virginia evening.
The Red Raiders (25-7, 6-4) played error free baseball, hit in the clutch and got a strong pitching performance from starter Patrick Monteverde, while the Mountaineers committed three errors and again came up short in several potential scoring situations.
Tech forged an early lead with a pair of first-inning extra base hits off Mountaineer starter Jackson Wolf, who again battled to pitch effectively with men on base. A leadoff error by Kevin Brophy put Tech’s Easton Murrell aboard, and then a double from Braxton Fulford and a triple from Jace Jung gave the visitors a 2-0 advantage.
WVU’s first decent scoring chance came in the second inning, when Monteverde suffered a momentary loss of control and walked three Mountaineer batters to load the bases with one out. However, he recovered to strike out Brophy and get Austin Davis on a bang-bang groundout at first to keep WVU off the board.
Tech scored five runs over the fourth through the seventh innings to put the game away, taking a 7-0 lead and holding the Mountaineers to one hit over the first six frames.
“You have to give credit to the kid (Monteverde) who pitched for them tonight. He threw three pitches for strikes,” head coach Randy Mazey noted. “He did what you are supposed to do.”
The Mountaineers’ second hit in the game came in the seventh, when Paul McIntosh laced a leadoff double down the left field line. Again, though, a follow-up was lacking, as Monteverde struck out two and got a groundout to end the inning. The pattern repeated in the eighth, when Austin Davis legged out an infield single and Tyler Doanes singled to put runners at the corners. Tech, though, turned a double play to end the threat.
WVU broke up the shutout in the ninth, scoring a pair of cosmetic runs. Again, though, the Mountaineers left the bases loaded, and finished the evening 0-3 at the plate with the bases full.
Monteverde (6-1) earned the win for the Red Raiders, going seven innings and striking out seven while yielding two hits and three walks. He kept the ball down, recording 10 groundouts while throwing a very efficient 64 strikes on 95 pitches.
Wolf (3-4) was tagged with the loss, allowing six runs (four earned) on seven hits and three walks. The lefthander did strike out nine, but Tech stroked four extra base hits against him, including a two-run homer by Fulford.
“I was proud of Jackson. He went out there and competed,” Mazey said. “We make an error to start the game and make him have to get four outs in the first inning against a good team. The pitches they hit for the most part were pretty good pitches, and that’s why they are ranked in the Top Ten.”
McIntosh had a pair of doubles for West Virginia, and Matt McCormick was 2-3 with an RBI.
First pitch for the second game of the three-game weekend series is set for 4 p.m. Saturday. WVU junior left-hander Adam Tulloch (0-3, 7.03 ERA) is scheduled to take the hill against Texas Tech sophomore right-hander Micah Dallas (1-2, 3.37 ERA).
SEAMS AND BARRELS
Tech tied the all-time series record at 14 games apeice.
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WVU shortstop Tevin Tucker, who underwent surgery prior to the season, was out of the protective boot that he has been wearing for much of the year.
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West Virginia was 221st nationally in fielding percentage coming into the game (.960), and did not help its status with three errors in the contest.