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Kearns, WVU defeat Pitt in backyard brawl

Courtesy of West Virginia Athletics
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In the 194th edition of the Backyard Brawl, the West Virginia University baseball team shut out Pitt, 2-0, in the final home game of the regular season at Monongalia County Ballpark.

In front of 2,815 fans, the eighth-largest home crowd in program history and second-largest midweek crowd, the Mountaineers (31-20) improved to 106-88 all-time against the Panthers (22-28). WVU has won three in a row and nine of the last 13 meetings in the all-time series. The sweep of the season series is the first by either team since West Virginia won both games in 2014.

West Virginia recorded its second shutout of the season, thanks to freshman starter Isaiah Kearns’ 5.2 innings and senior Jackson Sigman’s 3.1 no-hit innings. Sigman earned the win, his fourth of the season.

Kearns, making his sixth career start, allowed just three hits with a career-high-tying seven strikeouts in 5.2 innings. He walked three and did not allow a runner to advance past second base.

Sigman followed with the final 3.1 innings. The senior did not allow a baserunner and struck out three.

“He’s so valuable for us,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said of Sigman. “He broke another record tonight, he broke his own record, set his last time he pitched, for single-season appearances. The next time he pitches he’s going to break another record, so that guy has a chance to pitch five or six more times this season, so I’m super proud of the adjustment he made in the middle of the season.

“Isaiah Kearns, right when we needed a great start out of freshman, he came out here, and on a big stage in front of a great crowd, they were packed in everywhere. That’s a big moment for a freshman from Pennsylvania that was recruited by both schools. I’m super proud of him as well.”

At the plate, two runs in the sixth inning was all the Mountaineers needed.

The sixth began with a walk by sophomore designated hitter Braden Zarbnisky. Junior left fielder Kyle Davis followed with an RBI triple to the wall in left-center, scoring Zarbnisky to give the Mountaineers a 1-0 lead. Sophomore right fielder Darius Hill then singled home Davis for the game’s final run.

“I keep talking about the middle of the lineup that needs to produce,” Mazey added. “(Senior first baseman Jackson) Cramer, Hill and Kyle Davis each have two hits in the game for us. That game came together exactly like we needed it to.”

Davis and Cramer both singled in the second, but WVU could not bring a run in. West Virginia had another two hits in the fourth, by Hill and Cramer, before breaking through in the sixth.

After the Mountaineers took their 2-0 lead in the sixth, Sigman made sure it stayed with perfect innings in the seventh, eighth and ninth. He retired all 10 batters he faced.

West Virginia concludes the regular season at this weekend Texas. The series begins on Friday, May 19, at 7:30 p.m. ET, while Saturday’s first pitch is set for 5 p.m. The regular season concludes on Sunday, May 21, at 2 p.m. All three games in Austin will be broadcast on the Longhorn Network.

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