GRANVILLE, W. Va — Mazey’s Crazies opened the final weekend of the regular season with a massive effort in the batter’s box.
JJ Wetherholt led WVU’s 15-hit performance against Kansas State as the Mountaineers took a 15-4 victory over the Wildcats to open the three-game set on Saturday. Nine different WVU hitters recorded hits in the blowout and seven had RBIs.
“[Wetherholt] was hot early then he cooled off a bit in the middle, but now he’s swinging it good again just in the nick of time, you know, because this is the most important part of the season,” said WVU skipper Randy Mazey.
Austin Davis led the game off with a single for WVU to open the batting bonanza and his first of two hits in the contest. Two pitches later, the lefty Wetherholt sent him home with a two-run home run to left-center field.
“The shift they had on me was just kind of interesting, it was just kind of all to [the right side of the field],” Wetherholt said. “So any ground ball wasn’t getting through that way, so I really just tried to stay backside.”
WVU added five more runs to its total in the third inning with a pair of RBI hits. McGwire Holbrook started it off with a three-run double to left field, then Dayne Leonard scored two more with a single. Leonard added another RBI with a single in the fifth.
Kansas State finally got to WVU starter Jacob Watters in the fifth frame. Dominic Johnson hit K-State’s first two runs home. Johnson finished the game with three RBIs, logging another in the seventh frame with a single.
Watters (3-6) was pulled after that fifth inning, having given up two runs on four hits. He struck out three Wildcats, but struggled to find the zone with just 48.9 percent of his pitches going for strikes.
Blake Adams (5-6) worked for seven frames despite a disastrous first three innings. He finished with eight runs allowed on 11 hits while striking out seven and walking two.
The Mountaineers blew the game wide open with seven runs in the eighth, battering the Wildcats’ first two bullpen arms. Five different Mountaineers logged RBIs in the inning, capped off by a three-run home run by pinch-hitter Kevin Dowdell after WVU had batted around.
Wetherholt paced the game with three hits and three RBIs in the game, adding a double in the sixth inning. Davis, Leonard, Victor Scott II and Nathan Blasick all had a pair of hits each, while Holbrook, Leonard and Dowdell all finished with three RBIs alongside Wetherholt.
As a team, WVU added four steals to its program-record total, bringing it to 148 for the campaign.
Johnson had a trio of hits along with his three-RBI night for Kansas State, while Kaelen Culpepper and Cash Rugely each had a pair of hits.
The series has extra weight added to it as both teams wrestle in the middle of the Big 12 standings. The Mountaineers solidified at least a sixth-place finish with the win and still hold the possibility of climbing in the standings with more wins in the weekend and some help around the league.
“We’ve been on the other end of those games, where you get blown out, but all the momentum in the series right now is in their dugout,” Mazey said. “10 minutes ago, they were down by 11, but now their next at-bat will be in a tie game….There’s no such thing as a blowout game that’s not followed by a dog fight.”
Game two of the series is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. WVU lefty Ben Hampton (7-4, 4.65 ERA) will square off on the mound against K-State righty German Fajardo (4-1, 3.11 ERA).