Baseball, WVU Sports

Mountaineers wallop Pitt in baseball, 12-1

GRANVILLE — Isaiah Kearns is not all that worried about perceptions or positions these days.
Call him a pitcher who can hit and run down flyballs in the outfield. Call him an outfielder who can pitch. It makes little difference to him.
“I don’t know, I’d probably consider myself a pitcher that hits, maybe,” Kearns said after pitching five shutout innings April 11, as the WVU baseball team pounded rival Pitt, 12-1, in front of 1,632 fans inside Monongalia County Ballpark. “Yeah, I’ll go with that.”
Just don’t think of Kearns — a native of Johnstown, Pa., just 67 miles east of Pittsburgh — as a player in Pitt’s backyard who got away from the Panthers in recruiting.
“They recruited me a little bit,” Kearns said, a slight smile now forming out of a corner of his mouth. “It wasn’t the place for me, so I chose to come here.”
The Panthers (17-13) have paid dearly ever since. They were held scoreless by Kearns last season, when he was a freshman.
Wednesday, he struck out eight and allowed just two hits, before he was relieved in the sixth.
In a combined 10 2/3 innings pitched against Pitt, Kearns has allowed five hits and no runs.
“Pitching against them, I just want to throw strikes and compete,” he said. “It’s a little extra motivation, I guess, with them being our big rival.”
In dominating the Panthers, WVU (15-15) scored a season-high 12 runs and its 15 hits tied a season high.
“I like playing Pitt at home,” said WVU shortstop Jimmy Galkusky, who went 4-for-4, scored three runs and drove in two. “It’s kind of a big deal to play in the Backyard Brawl in front of a good crowd. We played well.”
Brandon White also was a perfect 4-for-4. He scored four times and drove in two. Darius Hill added a bases-loaded double that scored three in the sixth and he had five RBIs in the game.
The only WVU starters who didn’t get a hit were Braden Zarbinsky — he did score two runs — and Kearns, who got the job done on the mound.
“He’s been good a lot in his career, but that was as good as I’ve seen him pitch,” Galusky said of Kearns. “He was really good. His fastball was getting on guys. His change-up was really on. He got through guys a lot. That was the most swings and misses I’ve seen in a while.”
It was the Mountaineers’ fourth straight win, which sets up their crucial weekend series against Oklahoma State, which sits in second place in the Big 12.
The WVU bullpen pitched the final four innings, allowing two hits and one run. In all, Pitt batters struck out 14 times.
“We’re trying to catch a rhythm,” WVU head coach Randy Mazey said. “Hopefully, this is the start of it. We’ve got an opportunity to make some noise right now. Without question, this was the best game we’ve played all year on all three sides of the ball. We pitched really well, we played great defense and we hit really well. That’s super encouraging.”