CLEMSON — K.C. Huth scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the seventh inning to break a scoreless tie as West Virginia downed Clemson, 2-0, Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in the season opener for both teams.
The Mountaineers, who defeated the Tigers for the first time in the 11th all-time meeting, took a 1-0 lead in the three-game series.
Blake Smith earned the win by tossing 4.0 scoreless innings in relief. Tiger reliever Alex Bostic yielded a run on a wild pitch and suffered the loss. Starter Matthew Crownover pitched six strong innings, allowing just three hits, no runs and no walks with eight strikeouts.
Clemson stranded five runners on base in the first two innings and 11 for the game, including seven in scoring position. The Mountaineers capitalized in the seventh inning with a two-out single by Justin Fox, his third hit of the game, and a run scored by Huth on a wild pitch. West Virginia added an insurance run on a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.
James Reeves tossed six stellar innings, striking out 14 while allowing only two hits and no walks, to lead The Citadel over Air Force in the season opener for both teams Friday at Riley Park.
The teams complete the three-game series Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at noon. The Sunday game was moved up a day in anticipation of freezing temperatures in the Charleston area near the close of the weekend.
Reeves fell one shy of his career high strikeout total set last season at Davidson and gave up both of his hits in the second when the Falcons scored their only run off the redshirt junior southpaw. Reeves was making his first start since last March 30, missing the second half of the 2014 campaign with an elbow injury.
Skylar Hunter worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth to close out Air Force for his 29th career save, tying Citadel Hall of Famer Hank Kraft for the most in school history. Hunter was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association preseason All-America third team last week.
Reeves and the bullpen were backed by a nine-hit attack that included a two-run double by Bret Hines in the third that broke a 1-1 tie and gave The Citadel the lead for good. Freshman Shy Phillips had three hits in his collegiate debut, while Connor Walsh slammed his first career home run.
Griffin Jax allowed eight hits and all five Bulldog runs in six plus innings and took the loss for the Falcons.
Reeves struck out the side in the first and fifth and had a pair of punch outs in his other four frames. He threw a total of 89 pitches with 62 strikes and went to a three-ball count on only three batters.
Set-up men Zach Sherrill and Zach Lavery struck out two each in their one inning on the mound, giving Bulldog pitchers 19 in the game, tied for the second most in school history and two away from the record set against Appalachian State on April 12, 1997.
Walsh’s round-tripper leading off the bottom of the second hit about halfway up the video board in right center to match a Falcon run in the top of the inning. A fielder’s choice grounder by Drew Ellis and sacrifice fly by Johnathan Stokes made it 5-2 in the seventh.
Ellis also singled in the first for his first collegiate hit while joining Phillips, second baseman Philip Watcher and right fielder Clay Martin as freshmen in The Citadel’s starting lineup.
Three Buccaneer pitchers surrendered only an unearned run and Nate Blanchard went 3-for-4 with a two-run single to power Charleston Southern past Chicago State, 8-1, in its 2015 season opener on Friday night at CSU Ballpark.
Starter Andrew Tomasovich gave up an RBI single in the top of the first following a CSU error, but went on to strike out six as the Bucs won their third straight season opener.
Relievers Evan Raynor and Wil Hartsell allowed a lone single over the final three innings to preserve the win.
CSU head coach Stuart Lake liked the demeanor he saw out of his junior and No. 1 starter
“This early in the year, nobody knows what to expect,” Lake said. “For Andrew to go out there and really just shut them down — at least settle us into the game — was all we could ask for ... then our offense got going pretty quickly too.“
Blanchard’s three hits tied senior Sam Remick for team-high honors, part of the Bucs’ 15-hit onslaught. The sophomore singled, stole second and scored as part of the four-run second that gave CSU a lead for good. He added a bases-loaded single just inside the bag at first to plate two runs in the third.
Lake was pleased with his team’s offensive output and what he saw from his leadoff batter.
“It was exciting to see him bring what he has brought all fall and (preseason) to a game tonight,” Lake added. “He really set the table for the middle of our order tonight and that’s what you want your leadoff guy to do.”
Blanchard wasn’t the only Bucs swinging a hot bat despite temperatures dropping into the 30s by the end of the game.
Remick went 3-for-5 while Andrew Widell was 2-for-3 with a pair of walks. He had a team-leading 30 last season. Junior college newcomer Cole Murphy was 2-for-4 in his CSU debut, as was Goose Creek product Chris Singleton.
Junior centerfielder Brandon Burris had the game’s most exciting play, lining an RBI double into the right-field corner and racing home to score on an error by Chicago State’s Jordan Schroschein. Chase Shelton added a double off the wall in the Bucs’ two-run eighth.
The Bucs’ pitching staff took care of the rest, combining for 10 strikeouts to just two walks without allowing an extra-base hit.
Chicago State scored in the top of the first when Julian Russell reached on a throwing error by Murphy and scored on an RBI single by Chase Matheson, but the lead lasted only an inning.
Stroschein and Matt Schmidt each had two hits to lead the Cougars.
Eric Hall took the loss for Chicago State, giving up four runs in four innings of work.