STATESBORO, Ga. — Alek Manoah and Sam Kessler combined for a pitching gem to lead West Virginia baseball to a series-opening 5-1 win at Georgia Southern.
Manoah (1-0) picked up his first win of the season, striking out eight while allowing one unearned run on two hits in 6 1/3 innings. When the Eagles did get contact on Manoah, it was typically weak. The junior right-hander induced seven ground outs.
Georgia Southern (1-3) didn’t have any more luck against Kessler, who earned his first save of the year by closing out the final 2 2/3 innings. Kessler struck out five while allowing three hits.
The ability to preserve the rest of the bullpen is a potentially big development for the Mountaineers (3-2), who will finish the series with a Saturday doubleheader. The third game was originally scheduled for Sunday, but with inclement weather expected, the finale was moved to the nightcap of a twinbill that will begin at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
“Manoah and Kessler were dominant like they normally are,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “If we use those two guys, we have to win that game. If we use those two guys and don’t win, that puts us at a real disadvantage for the weekend. We got some timely hitting, moved the baseball, laid some nice bunts down and got runs when we needed them.”
Catcher Ivan Gonzalez led West Virginia’s offense, going 2-for-3 with an RBI double in the eighth inning.
The Mountaineers got on the board with Darius Hill’s two-out RBI single in the third. West Virginia added to its lead as T.J. Lake and Tevin Tucker laid down back-to-back squeeze bunts to drive in runs in the seventh.
Seth Shuman (0-2) took the loss despite striking out nine Mountaineers. Shuman allowed one run on four hits in 6 innings.