MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Sophomore right-hander Michael Grove took a perfect game into the eighth inning to lead the West Virginia University baseball team to its sixth consecutive victory, an 8-0 win against Kansas on Saturday.
In front of a season-high crowd of 2,085 at Monongalia County Ballpark, Grove was dominant on the mound, retiring the first 23 batters he faced. The Wheeling, West Virginia, native did not allow a baserunner until giving up a line-drive single to center field with two outs in the eighth inning.
In 8.0 innings, Grove struck out a season-best 12 batters, one shy of tying his career high. Throwing 109 pitches, he did not allow a run and gave up just one hit with no walks.
“After he got the first out in the fifth inning, I looked at the line on the scoreboard and said ‘oh my goodness, he has a no hitter going,’ ” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “Then you start counting down the outs and telling guys in the outfield ‘hey, anything close you have to dive for it, try and preserve this thing.’ You don’t talk about a no-hitter or perfect game, but everybody knows. All the fans know, the umpires know, both teams know. It takes on a whole new meaning at a baseball game when a guy’s got that going. I was rooting like crazy for him, he sure deserved it. I’m super proud of Michael.”
With the victory, the Mountaineers (19-10, 6-2 Big 12 Conference) won their sixth consecutive game and secured their fourth series win in a row and third in Big 12 play. WVU improved to 11-3 in its last 14 games.
With 12 strikeouts today, Grove has struck out at least eight batters in four of his last five starts. While improving to 3-1 on the year, Grove had his third consecutive quality start of the season and sixth of his career.
Behind Grove, West Virginia scored eight runs on 14 hits against the Jayhawks (13-17, 3-5 Big 12). Senior first baseman Jackson Cramer, junior left fielder Kyle Davis and sophomore right fielder Darius Hill all hit home runs. Davis led the team with three hits and three RBIs in four at-bats, while Hill had two hits and drove in two runs.
Grove’s day began with three groundouts in the first inning before he struck out two in the second, third and fourth, including a stretch of four in a row to end the third and start the fourth.
The Mountaineers got on the board offensively in the bottom of the fourth, with four runs. Hill’s home run, his third of the season and sixth of his career, got the scoring going. The long ball to right-center scored sophomore third baseman Cole Austin, who doubled for one of his three hits. With two outs, WVU made it 4-0 on a two-run single up the middle by freshman center fielder Brandon White.
After another strikeout by Grove in the top of the fifth, West Virginia added another four runs in the bottom of the inning. All four runs came via the home run, beginning with Cramer’s solo shot to right field, his sixth of the season and fourth in WVU’s first seven home games. Davis followed with a three-run homer to left-center, his third of the year.
Grove got another strikeout in the sixth before striking out the side in the seventh. His first two strikeouts in the seventh came on 3-2 counts before getting the final punch-out on a 1-2 pitch.
The sophomore right-hander got the first two outs of the eighth inning, on a line-out and another strikeout, before the perfect game was broken up on a clean-hit single to center field by David Kyriacou.
As the Monongalia County Ballpark crowd gave Grove a standing ovation, he got a groundout to end the eighth inning, his final on the mound.
Freshman righty Riley Troutt struck out the side in the ninth inning to finish off the game for the Mountaineers.
The series between WVU and KU concludes tomorrow, and the game has been moved up to a 12:30 p.m. first pitch to accommodate a change in Kansas’ travel schedule. Tickets are available, at 1-800-WVU GAME, WVUGAME.com or at the Mountaineer Ticket Office in the WVU Coliseum.
NOTES: West Virginia improved to 19-10 on the season and 6-2 in the Big 12 … WVU has won 11 of its last 14 games and four consecutive weekend series … WVU improved to 9-6 all-time against Kansas and has won five in a row in the series … Today’s attendance was a season-high 2,085, the 13th-largest home crowd in team history and the seventh-largest at Monongalia County Ballpark … Five of WVU’s first seven games have featured a crowd of more than 1,600 fans … Starter Michael Grove took a perfect game into the eighth inning, allowing his first baserunner in the eighth inning on a two-out single … Grove struck out a season-best 12 batters, allowed no runs on one hit and did not walk a batter in 8.0 innings .. Grove improved to 3-1 on the season and had his third consecutive quality start … Jackson Cramer hit his sixth home run of the season, 24th of his career and fourth in the first seven home games in 2017 … Kyle Davis hit his third home run of the year and 17th of his career and led the team with three hits and three RBIs … Darius Hill hit his third home run of the season and sixth of his career.
Single game tickets, flex plan tickets and mini packs for the 2017 WVU baseball season are on sale now. Fans can purchase tickets by calling 1-800-WVU GAME, going to WVUGAME.com or visiting the Mountaineer Ticket Office in the WVU Coliseum. The 2017 schedule is available on WVUsports.com.