By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
West Virginia University’s streaking baseball team overpowered Kansas State, 10-0, in a rain-delayed game Friday night at Hawley Field.
Harrison Musgrave overwhelmed the top-hitting team in the Big 12 as he won his fourth game in seven decisions with eight innings of shutout baseball. The Wildcats, who have been hitting .298 this season, managed only four hits in the game, three off Musgrave, who struck out eight and walked one.
Musgrave was the Big 12’s Pitcher of the Year last season and is again a candidate, although he has not had a lot of support, which has cost him some victories. He ranked second in the league in innings pitched and strikeouts entering the game, and his ERA fell to 1.77 with the eight shutout innings.
It was another complete performance for the Mountaineers, who now have won four in a row and six of their last seven games, raising their record to 22-16 as the bid for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
West Virginia has scored in double figures in its last three games and has banged out 18, 16, 12 and 13 hits in the last four games.
On this night it was Ryan McBroom providing one of the big blows, hammering a savage home run over the centerfield fence with a runner on base. It was his seventh home run of the season and his sixth coming with one man on base.
Four Mountaineers had two hits each – Taylor Munden, Billy Fleming, Ryan McBroom and Jacob Rice — while Munden, Fleming, McBroom and Bobby Boyd, the Big 12s leading hitter, each drove in two runs.
“I’m excited about the way we’re playing right now. Some guys have stepped up,” said Mountaineer coach Randy Mazey.
It represents a complete turnaround from a seven-game losing streak that threatened to ruin the season before things turned around.
“I think the reason we’re winning right now is because of the way we handled it when we were losing,” Mazey theorized. “We stayed positive. We didn’t point fingers. Nobody blamed anybody. We actually weren’t playing that bad when we were losing games. The other teams were playing just a little bit better.”
It took a bit of doing, first changing the bullpen and then discovering a pitcher in left-hander Ross Vance, who will close out this series with Kansas State on Sunday, to change the momentum, and with it in the base hits began to fall.
“We found guys to step up. We shuffled the bullpen around a little bit, the pitching staff, and all of a sudden we’re a whole new baseball team right now,” Mazey said.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.