The Mountaineers, who blew early leads to No. 8 Louisville and Delaware, got homers from McBroom and Cameron O’Brien to lead 5-1 through six innings before again turning the game over to a thus-far disappointing bullpen. This time, four relievers combined to hold the Bulldogs to a run over the final nine outs as West Virginia won for the first time this season.
WVU opened the scoring in the second with O’Brien’s first homerun of the year, a full-count solo shot to right field off starter Austin Livingstone. That was a precursor to McBroom’s fifth-inning blast, the clean-up hitter pulling a 2-1 pitch to left after Bobby Boyd singled and stole second. The two-run shot put the Mountaineers ahead 5-1 and chased Livingstone, who went 4 2/3 innings with eight hits and all five runs earned. Means (1-0) was in control from the start, retiring the first eight Citadel hitters and finishing with three strikeouts and no walks. The lefthander worked just one three-ball count over the 21 batters faced and allowed five total base runners – picking off Calvin Orth in the fourth after the third baseman had the lone Bulldogs’ RBI in the game.
West Virginia (1-2) added two more runs in eighth – all the offense coming with two outs – and three in the ninth to blow the game open. Boyd went three for six with two RBI and two runs scored while second baseman Billy Fleming had four hits in five at-bats. McBroom had two hits and three RBI as the two through four spots combined for nine hits, five RBI and three runs scored. In addition to his homer run, O’Brien tripled to left to open the ninth and scored on a wild pitch. The catcher, a transfer from Northeast Texas, started two of the three tournament games and finished two for five with three runs and an RBI in the finale.
O’Brien, a junior in competition with freshman Ray Guerrini and returning bullpen catcher Max Nogay, actually scored the first two Mountaineer runs, stealing second after reaching on a fielder’s choice and scoring on Sean Wood’s double to right center for a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Wood added the third run two batters later on a single up the middle, one of his three hits on the day as the Mountaineers scored in five different innings.
The 10 runs were an onslaught for an offense that has managed just two over the previous 15 innings after taking a 5-1 lead over Louisville through four in a season-opening 7-6 defeat in 10 innings. West Virginia banged out a season-best 18 hits against nine different pitchers one day after being limited to one run by Delaware via poor base running and a lack of timely hitting. All 10 runs were earned despite three Citadel errors. The Bulldogs (2-1) had eight hits and two runs, both earned, but struck out eight times.
The tournament showcased the unpredictability of collegiate baseball, especially early in the season. West Virginia dropped games to Louisville and Delaware before hammering a Citadel team that beat Virginia Tech (6-2) and UofL (5-3). Louisville went 2-1, with wins over WVU and Delaware and the loss to The Citadel. Tech finished with a split against The Citadel and Delaware. The Hokies play West Virginia in Princeton, W.Va. on May 6.
The Mountaineers begin a three-game set at San Diego State on Friday. Head coach Randy Mazey is expected to keep the starting rotation of Harrison Musgrave, Sean Carley and Means intact. The trio pitched brilliantly over the weekend, allowing a combined five runs, four earned, over 17 1/3 innings.