Wheatfield Whitewash

Billy Fleming

Billy Fleming had a monster day at the plate, bashing his first career homer and hitting for the cycle, but it wasn't enough to overcome an avalanche of clutch Kansas hitting on Sunday as the Mountaineers dropped a 9-8 decision. The win gave the Jayhawks their third consecutive Big 12 series sweep.

The Jayhawks scored six runs with two outs in grabbing the series sweep and sending the Mountaineers plummeting in the Big 12 standings. West Virginia's eight runs should have been enough to win the game, but an inability to close out innings, along with some key WVU miscues, allowed Kansas to grab the afternoon contest. West Virginia had 18 hits, but left 14 men on base.

The back and forth scoring began in the first, when Kansas lead off with a hit and a walk against Mountaineer starter John Means. After the pair moved up on a sacrifice bunt, a throwing error by WVU shortstop Taylor Munden allowed Justin Protacio to score, giving the Jayhawks their third consecutive early lead of the series. WVU tied the score in the third when Billy Fleming tripled and came home on Jacob Rice's single, but Kansas bounced right back in the bottom of the frame with a two-out RBI double to make the score 2-1.

West Virginia responded, and again it was Fleming who came through. He drove a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall for his first career home run to tie the score at 2-2. WVU then followed with two hits and a walk, but couldn't bring any of the runners home. And again, in counterpoint, Kansas was able to succeed where the Mountaineers fell short. This time, it came on a two-out single to center in the bottom of the fifth that brought two runs home to make the score 4-2.

The sixth inning was a wild affair, as West Virginia scored three runs to take the lead, only to see the home team answer with five runs to regain the lead at 9-5. In the top half, Munden double home a run, then Fleming completed the second-ever cycle in WVU history with an RBI double of his own. Rice singled to drive home Fleming to give the Mountaineers a short-lived one-run lead.

Again, though, as they did all weekend. Kansas responded with four hits, aided by a walk and two hit batters, to plate five runs and resume control of the game.

Still, WVU had some life left at the plate. One run in the seventh and two more in the eighth drew the Mountaineers within one run, and when Bobby Boyd got aboard in the ninth, West Virginia had one more chance to tie the score. However, a pop-up and a strikeout sent WVU home without a win in the important weekend series.

In addition to Fleming, who was 4-3 with two RBI and three runs scored, Rice had three hits. Munden, Boyd, Brad Johnson and Jackson Cramer also had multi-hit games for the Mountaineers.

Means pitched five innings, allowing five earned runs on six hits and three walks while striking out six. Ryan Tezak had a tough outing after several encouraging showings, yielding four earned runs in just 0.2 innings pitched. Pascal Paul shut down Kansas' final rally and held the Jayhawks in check afterward. He allowed one hit and one walk in 2.1 innings pitched.

RIFLE REPORTS

Fleming's cycle was the second in WVU history, The first came on April 26, 1998, when Bob Spangler turned the trick vs. Coppin State. Fleming achieved his cycle in his first four trips to the plate.

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West Virginia returns to action on Tuesday, May 13 against Maryland in College Park. Gametime is set for 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

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