No. 18 West Virginia has successfully completed two straight weeks of undefeated baseball to round out the month of April.
Tallying double-digit runs for the fourth time in the last five games buoyed what started as a clunky day on the mound for the Mountaineer pitching staff. Grant Siegel pitched effectively out of the bullpen to keep Baylor’s lineup at bay, while JJ Wetherholt and Dayne Leonard helped power the Mountaineer offense.
West Virginia (33-11, 11-4 Big 12) completed its second consecutive Big 12 series sweep on Sunday, winning 18-4 on the road at Baylor to bring out the brooms once again.
Randy Mazey’s lineup put three runs on the board in the top of the first inning. Leonard singled through the left side of the infield with the bases loaded to drive in two. Caleb McNeely plated another run on a sac fly one batter later to give West Virginia an early 3-0 lead.
After a 1-2-3 bottom of the first inning, WVU starter Robby Porco struggled in the second. Porco loaded the bases and was quickly pulled from the game a batter later. Baylor (15-29, 6-15 Big 12) scored two runs in the frame on a pair of fielder’s choices.
Porco and reliever Maxx Yehl combined to throw just 3 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on two hits and five walks.
Hitting with one on and a one-run lead, Leonard gave his team some insurance in the top of the third. Leonard belted a two-run home run to straightaway center field to give West Virginia a 5-2 advantage. Leonard batted 2 for 3 with 4 RBI and a walk on the afternoon.
Two innings later, with the lead cut to one once again, the Mountaineers went back to the long ball to distance themselves from the Bears.
Wetherholt and Ladon Wallace hit home runs on back-to-back pitches. Wallace’s bomb cleared the raised batter’s eye in dead center. Wetherholt’s blast on the previous pitch rocketed over the right-center field fence, and landed 453 feet away from home plate.
Wetherholt, who finished the game 3 for 4 with two runs batted in and a walk at the dish, is now tied for the team lead with 11 long balls on the year. He also successfully stole his 30th and 31st bases of the season in the eighth inning.
As a team, West Virginia eclipsed 100 stolen bases on the season Sunday. The Mountaineers have now recorded triple-digit steals for the second consecutive season.
With the lineup doing its thing, Siegel did his in relief. The sophomore righty pitched effectively out of the bullpen. He tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up five hits and striking out a pair. It’s Siegel’s fifth-straight scoreless relief appearance dating back to April 11.
The Mountaineer offense put up a crooked number in the last two innings for the second day in a row. Evan Smith’s three-RBI bloop single with two outs highlighted a five-run top of the eighth for WVU. West Virginia led 13-4 entering the ninth.
Nick Barone continued the onslaught with a pinch-hit grand slam in the ninth. It’s Barone’s second hit, and second home run, of the season.
By scoring 18 runs on Sunday, West Virginia has now scored at least 10 runs twelve times this season.
With the win, West Virginia strengthens its grip on first place in the Big 12 Conference standings. WVU has a 1.5-game lead overall, but has a three-game cushion over second-place Oklahoma State in the loss column.
The nationally ranked Mountaineers return home on Wednesday to host Pitt in the Backyard Brawl, beginning at 6:30 p.m.