LAWRENCE, Kan. – Despite registering 18 hits, the WVU baseball team left 14 men on base, falling 9-8 to Kansas on Sunday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.
The win for Kansas (33-21, 15-9 Big 12) completes the sweep, its third-straight Big 12 sweep. West Virginia fell to 27-20 overall and 9-11 in Big 12 action.
Junior second baseman Billy Fleming
hit for the cycle, becoming only the second Mountaineer to ever do so. Bob Spangler hit for the cycle during the 1998 season. Fleming finished 4-for-6 with three runs and two RBIs.
West Virginia spoiled an opportunity in the first inning as three-straight singles loaded the bases with no outs. Senior first baseman Ryan McBroom
struck out for the first out, and Rice grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Kansas made WVU pay in the bottom of the first when Justin Protacio scored to take a 1-0 lead on an RBI ground ball to shortstop.
Following a triple to right field by Fleming in the top of the third inning, Rice redeemed himself with a two-out single up the middle to tie the score at 1-1.
Kansas came through with another clutch hit to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third when Tucker Tharp doubled to left field, scoring Colby Wright from second base.
West Virginia tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth inning as Fleming notched his first career home run over the left field fence. The Mountaineers loaded the bases with two outs, but a running catch in left field by Kansas’ Michael Suiter off the bat of freshman designated hitter Jackson Cramer
ended the threat.
Ka’iana Eldredge broke the tie at 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth with a two out, two-run single to center field.
The back-and-forth game continued with the Mountaineers taking a 5-4 lead with three runs in the top of the sixth. Munden doubled down left field line to score Constantini from third base. Munden then tied the game as Fleming doubled to left center field, completing the cycle. Fleming gave WVU a 5-4 edge, scoring from third base on an infield single to shortstop by Rice.
Not to be outdone, Kansas came back and scored five runs on four hits to take a 9-5 lead in the bottom of the sixth. Back-to-back two-out singles by Tharp and Eldredge drove in two runs and one run, respectively.
WVU came back to load the bases with no outs in the top of the seventh, but mustered just one run on a Munden sacrifice fly to left field, plating junior catcher Cam O’Brien to bring the Kansas lead to 9-6.
The Mountaineers notched two more runs, bringing the score to 9-8, in the top of the eighth. Johnson singled up the middle on a hit and run to score McBroom from second base. Rice scored to bring it within one run on an O’Brien sacrifice fly to center field.
Junior left-hander John Means
(6-1) took a no-decision, allowing five runs on six hits in 5.0 innings with six strikeouts and three walks. The loss went to junior right-hander Ryan Tezak
(4-1), who suffered his first defeat of the season. Tezak relieved Means and gave up four runs on four hits with one walk in 0.2 innings.
Kansas’ Frank Duncan (6-2) also took a no-decision, giving up five runs on 13 hits. Duncan struck out three and walked one. Drew Morovick picked up the win, allowing one run on three hits with one strikeout in 0.2 innings.
West Virginia returns to action at Maryland on Tuesday for the final non-conference game of the season. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. The radio broadcast will be on select affiliates of the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG College.