MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The rain was falling in Waco for the series opener between No. 18 West Virginia and Baylor but that did not stop the Mountaineers from bringing the heat early.
In the top of the first inning, it was a two-out rally for Randy Mazey’s ball club. A hit-by-pitch and a walk put Landon Wallace and Caleb McNeely on base. They both advanced on a throwing error and Dayne Leonard drove them in with a single to make it 2-0 in favor of the visitors.
A great bunt by Tevin Tucker helped WVU execute the squeeze to make it a three-run lead heading into the bottom of the second.
Over the next two innings, John Ceccoli took matters into his own hands for the Bears. First, it was a sac fly that brought in a run in the second followed by an RBI double down the right-field line in the fourth to cut the WVU lead to 3-2.
BU took its first lead of the night in the sixth. A double and a fielder’s choice put the home team in perfect position when Casey Sunseri stepped to the plate. He ripped a double down the left line that just stayed fair and sent in a pair of runners for a 4-3 advantage.
Junior lefty Ben Hampton went 6.0 innings and allowed seven hits, four earned runs and struck out four. Sophomore Aidan Major struck out two of the first three batters he faced to keep it a one-run contest after seven.
The skipper always says the Mountaineers never panic and that showed true in the eighth as they got another two-out rally going.
Evan Smith who finished the game in right field knocked a double that brought in Braden Barry and Grant Hussey as West Virginia took back the lead 5-4. Smith advanced to third on a throwing error but Tucker flied out to center to end the inning.
The Bears threatened in the bottom of the ninth, but Carlson Reed came in and did what he does best. After a groundout, he fanned the final two batters to earn his fifth save of the season and preserve the 5-4 victory.
Major earned his third win of the season.
The Mountaineers left 10 runners on base compared to five for Baylor.
West Virginia improves to 31-11 overall, 9-4 in league action. Baylor falls to 15-27 and 6-13 respectively.
WVU looks to clinch its third straight Big 12 series when the two meet on Saturday. It will be Blaine Traxel (5-3, 3.44 ERA) on the bump against BU’s Will Rigney (3-1, 3.80 ERA).
First pitch is set for 3 p.m. ET on ESPN+.