WVU baseball vs Canisius 3/8/23

WVU faces off against the Golden Griffins in its home opener on March 8, 2023.

The West Virginia baseball team played its home opener Wednesday, defeating the Canisius Golden Griffins 8-1 at Monongalia County Ballpark in Morgantown.

West Virginia (7-4) gained their second win of the week over Canisius (2-6), after defeating them 3-2 in Richmond on Saturday.

It didn’t take long for Canisius to take the lead, as Jackson Strong hit a solo homer off freshman WVU starter Gavin Van Kempen. And it took just as long for WVU to take a lead of their own, as sophomore second baseman JJ Wetherholt hit a two-run home run to right center in the bottom of the first frame.

The game then went scoreless for the next four innings, until a sac fly from Wetherholt drove in redshirt senior shortstop Tevin Tucker to increase the West Virginia lead to 3-1.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Aidan Major came into the game in the sixth inning, managing to get a crucial strikeout for the third out of the inning with the tying run on base.

In the bottom of the inning, two Mountaineer runners reached base, and sophomore center fielder Braden Barry stepped to the plate. On a 2-2 count, Barry whacked a home run to left field, extending the Mountaineers lead to 6-1.

Redshirt senior catcher later singled to make it 7-1. An eighth-inning double by Lonard then extended the WVU lead to 8-1.

The offense was strong for the Mountaineers, as they collected 10 hits, six of which went for extra bases, in 31 at-bats, also walking nine times. Barry and Wetherholt were the standout WVU batters, each having three hits and three runs batted in.

WVU head coach Randy Mazey says it doesn’t surprise him that Wetherholt is hitting this way

“It’s not that unusual last month and that's what he's done literally every time we played an intersquad here. He's performing in a whole different level than everybody else. I just talked to them about having peaks and valleys and sometimes as a hitter, you get hot, you get cold, but he's been hot and he stayed hot. And he's just super consistent.”

On the mound, five Mountaineers pitchers combined to pitch nine innings, giving up only one run. The Freshman Van Kempen had a good first collegiate start, as the right-handed pitcher pitched 5 ⅓ innings, allowing one run, six hits, no walks, and striking out six Canisius batters.

The Mountaineers continue their season at home this weekend, facing the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. First pitch Friday is set for 2 p.m, with streaming being available on Big 12 Now via ESPN+.

Sports Writer

Jake Howard is a senior journalism major and sports communication minor at WVU, from Leesburg, Virginia. Jake is a lifelong sports fan, he covered sports on YouTube previously and now writes about sports for the DA, as well as being a member of the sports staff at U92. Jake wants to be an SID for his career.