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Kearns, WVU offense roll to win over Baylor

Courtesy of West Virginia AthleticsK

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 24, 2017) – Freshman starter Isaiah Kearns was lights-out on the mound and the offense scored seven runs in the first inning as the West Virginia University baseball team opened the 2017 Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship with an 11-1, eight-inning victory over Baylor on Wednesday morning in Oklahoma City.

The fourth-seeded Mountaineers (33-22) plated seven runs in the first inning and never looked back, capping the victory with two runs in the eighth for the run-rule win. Seven of WVU’s 11 runs came with two outs.

Meanwhile, Kearns held the fifth-seeded Bears (34-20) to one run on three hits with no walks and six strikeouts while throwing an 8.0-inning complete game, the first of his career.

“Wow. I think that’s all I can say about that one,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “Who knew? You’re getting ready to find out that Isaiah Kearns does not give you the impression that he’s a morning guy, but apparently he is, because that’s as good a pitching performance as the Mountaineers have had this entire season. To go out and do what he did today, and coming off a short week, it enabled us to get through the first game without using any of the bullpen and turn around our weekend starters. It’s just unbelievable what he did today and kudos to him. He pitched really well in the last outing against Pitt (on May 16). He threw a shutout that day in our last midweek game. It was really good to see Jimmy (Galusky) here swing the bat well, because he played really well here last year in the conference tournament. He got a lot of hits for us and he always plays great defense. They don’t let me write a script for this thing, that’s what you guys do, but if I had to write one, this is the one I would have written today.”

West Virginia advances to the winner’s bracket of the championship and will play No. 8 Oklahoma State tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT.

On a sun-soaked morning at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, West Virginia scored 11 runs on 14 hits, highlighted by the seven-run first inning. The 11 runs scored ties a program record at the Big 12 Championship, while the 14 hits breaks the previous record.

Sophomore shortstop Jimmy Galusky led the way offensively, with three hits and two RBIs. He is the fifth Mountaineer to have three hits in a Big 12 Championship game. Sophomore second baseman Kyle Gray led WVU with three RBIs on a bases clearing triple in the first inning. Gray had two hits, along with sophomore third baseman Cole Austin, junior left fielder Kyle Davis and sophomore catcher Ivan Gonzalez. Austin added two RBIs, along with sophomore right fielder Darius Hill.

Kearns threw the first complete game in program history at the Big 12 Championship, pitching a career-long 8.0 innings before the mercy rule was put into effect. While throwing 103 pitches, he held Baylor to three hits and one earned run in the seventh inning. Kearns had his first career quality start, easily eclipsing his previous career-high of 5.2 innings pitched.

The Mountaineers batted around in the first inning, scoring seven runs on six hits. Back-to-back singles led off the inning, and a sacrifice fly brought in the first run. A pick-off cleared the bases for the second out of the inning. The offense went right back to work though, with a hit-by-pitch and a walk followed by three straight RBI singles.

Davis got things started, followed by an RBI infield single by sophomore designated hitter Braden Zarbnisky and another single by Galusky. A walk loaded the bases and sent Gray back to the plate, who began the inning with a single. Gray then tripled down the right-field line, clearing the bases and capping West Virginia’s seven-run inning.

Kearns pitched his first 1-2-3 inning in the second, and added another perfect inning in the third. The Mountaineers then added on in the bottom half on a single to left-center by Galusky to score Davis.

West Virginia made it 9-0 in the fourth, on Austin’s two-out single that scored Gonzalez.

Two more perfect innings by Kearns followed before the Bears got their only run in the top of the seventh. A leadoff double was followed by a fly-out and an RBI groundout to make it 9-1. Kearns got a strikeout to end the inning and limit the damage.

The Mountaineers walked off in the eighth inning, scoring two runs to complete the 10-run victory. Two walks began the inning before Hill drove in the first run and Austin singled home the second and final run.

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