WVU drops crucial series to Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. — The WVU baseball team lost the final game Sunday of a three-game series at Kansas, 5-2.

The Mountaineers (24-21, 7-11 Big 12) were held to two runs on seven hits. The Jayhawks (22-25, 5-12 Big 12) scored five runs on eight hits while committing one error. Kansas hit three home runs in the game.

After a 21-3 victory in the opening game on Friday, the Mountaineers dropped the final two games in what could have been an opportunity to move up in the conference standings.

Junior second baseman Kyle Gray had two hits, including a home run, to extend his hit streak to 22 games, the longest by a Mountaineer since Dan DiBartolomeo’s 23-game streak, in 2009.

Gray hit his 13th home run of the season and fourth of the weekend in the ninth inning and is tied for seventh-most homers in a single season in program history.

Along with Gray (23 games), junior right fielder Darius Hill (21) and sophomore Marques Inman (20) also extended their career-long reached-base streaks, as Inman had a team-high-tying two hits and Hill a walk.

Sophomore right-handed starter Isaiah Kearns struck out a career-best nine batters in 5.0 innings, striking out the side twice. He allowed three runs on five hits with one walk and falls to 3-2 on the season.

Kearns struck out the side in the first, and Inman and Gray both singled to lead off the second, but a double play ended the inning. Gray’s single, on a bunt to second base in his first at-bat, was what extended his hit streak.

WVU left two on in the fourth, as Inman singled and Gray walked with two outs.

In the bottom half, Kearns proceeded to strike out the side again, leaving a runner on second after a one-out single and stolen base.

The Mountaineers took a 1-0 lead in the fifth, scoring first for the third time in the series and the 26th time this year.

Kearns singled, stole second and scored when junior left fielder Braden Zarbnisky doubled to right-center on a 1-2 pitch with two outs.

Kansas answered to take a 3-1 lead in the fifth. A leadoff double was followed by a two-run home run by Benjamin Sems. James Cosentino then hit a solo home run with two outs.

Zarbnisky relieved Kearns on the mound to start the sixth and retired the Jayhawks in order, but K.U. added two more in the seventh to make it 5-1 on a leadoff home run by Owen Taylor and an RBI single with two outs.

Two reached with two outs for West Virginia in the eighth inning, as sophomore center fielder Brandon White doubled and Hill walked. However, a groundout ended the inning.

Sophomore right-handed reliever Alek Manoah came on in the bottom of the eighth and pitched a perfect inning.

Gray led off the ninth with a solo home run, his fourth of the weekend, to make it 5-2.

Junior catcher Ivan Gonzalez reached on a one-out error, but the Mountaineers could not bring another run across.

WVU returns home to host Virginia Tech, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, at Monongalia County Ballpark.

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