MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia raced out to a seven-run lead after the third inning on its way to taking the series opener from K-State, 15-4, Thursday night at Monongalia County Ballpark.
The Mountaineers (31-20, 12-10 Big 12) brought 11 hitters to the plate in both the third and eighth innings, scoring five and seven runs, respectively, in those frames. J.J. Wetherholt hit a two-run home run in the first innings and Kevin Dowdell launched a three-run shot in the eighth.
“Obviously, a disappointing start to the series,” said head coach Pete Hughes. “We weren’t able to take advantage of runners on base, get big hits or string hits together to create momentum and keep it in our dugout. They did just the opposite, they were able to do that. They took advantage of runners on base and got big hit after big hit and created a big inning.
“The third inning set the tone for the whole game. I was disappointed because we had our chances to get back into that thing in the fourth and fifth innings. We just weren’t able to get the big hits and they did.”
Seven of the first eight Mountaineer hitters reached during their five-run third inning against Wildcat starter Blake Adams, including two walks and single to load the bases before an out was recorded. McGwire Holbrook cleared the bases with a three-run double.
Dayne Leonard added a two-run single to stake WVU to a 7-0 lead.
Adams posted a zero in four of his seven innings, but was tagged for season highs in runs (8) and hits (11) in the loss. The junior struck out seven and walked two on a season-high 122 pitches.
WVU reliever Chase Smith entered the game and got out of the jam with an inning-ending strikeout.
West Virginia inflated its lead with seven runs in the home half of the eighth, highlighted by Dowdell’s pinch-hit homer.
Johnson paced the Wildcat offense with three hits and three RBI. Rugely doubled in going 2-for-3 while Culpepper finished 2-for-4.
Dowdell, Holbrook, Leonard and Wetherholt each produced three-RBI nights while five Mountaineers registered multi-hit efforts, led by three hits by Wetherholt.
K-State hit just .188 (3-for-16) with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners.
WVU went 10-for-18 (.556) with runners in scoring position and 11-for-23 (.478) with runners on base.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
After Wetherholt gave WVU an early 2-0 lead with a first-inning homer, the Mountaineers broke it open with five runs in the third inning. West Virginia brought 11 to the plate, as it rattled off five hits against Adams.
In the third, the first three reached base to load the bases for Holbrook. Holbrook doubled down the left field line to clear the bases and extend WVU’s lead to 5-0. Later in the frame, Leonard’s two-RBI single made it seven straight runs.
Back-to-back walks set up Johnson’s two-run double in the fifth, trimming K-State’s deficit to five runs. The Mountaineers got one of those runs back via an RBI single by Leonard in the bottom of the fifth, pushing their lead to 8-2.
The Wildcats loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the eighth, trailing 8-3. WVU turned to reliever Smith who struck out Nicoloff to escape the threat.
West Virginia again brought 11 to the plate in its seven-run eighth, swelling its lead to 15-3. In the inning, Dowdell’s pinch-hit three-run homer highlighted the frame.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- K-State scored four runs on 11 hits with two errors and left 11 on base.
- West Virginia scored 15 runs on 15 hits, committed no errors and stranded six baserunners.
- Johnson had a three-hit, three-RBI game to pace the Wildcat offense.
- It marked Johnson’s team-leading seventh three-hit game and 22nd multi-hit game.
- Culpepper and Rugely each contributed two hits.
- Adams was hit for season highs in run (8), earned runs (8) and hits (11) over seven innings.
- WVU brought 11 to the plate in both the third and eighth innings, combining to score 12 of its 15 runs.
- Dowdell, Holbrook, Leonard and Wetherholt all finished with three RBI.
- Watters walked five and struck out three in five innings, earning the win.
- Five Mountaineers registered multi-hit games.
- K-State went 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position and 3-for-16 with men on base.
- West Virginia was 10-for-18 with runners in scoring position and 11-for-23 with runners on base.
- West Virginia leads the all-time series 14-11, dating back to 2013.
- K-State is 3-7 on the road in the series.
- K-State now has 78 home runs on the season, the second-most in a single season in program history.
- The Wildcats’ streak of seven straight games with a home run was snapped.
- K-State is 6-15 in true road games and 6-18 in all games away from home.
- The Cats were 1-7 in Big 12 series openers and have allowed double-digit runs in seven conference games.
K-State and West Virginia continue the three-game set Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT at Monongalia County Ballpark. The contest can be seen on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ and the ESPN app. Radio coverage will be available on News Radio KMAN with free, live audio streaming at K-StateSports.com/Watch.