By Cam Huffman
Harrison Musgrave has twice been named the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week in his first year in the new conference.
Pitcher of the Year could be next.
The sophomore lefty from Bridgeport — who pitched a complete-game shutout last Friday at Texas — turned the trick again Friday night at Linda K. Epling Stadium, hurling a four-hit shutout as West Virginia (25-16, 9-7 Big 12) remained perfect on Friday nights in the conference with a 1-0 victory over the Jayhawks, thanks to Brady Wilson’s eighth-inning RBI triple.
In front of a crowd of 2,053 fans — most decked out in gold and blue — Musgrave (6-1) struck out five and walked only one. He extended his scoreless streak to 26 innings and moved to 4-0 against Big 12 competition.
“It’s a team effort,” said Musgrave, who dropped his ERA to 2.10 overall and 0.97 in conference play. “We come out with a lot of energy on Fridays. I’m just lucky to be able to throw on those days.”
Kansas (25-16, 9-7 Big 12) only threatened twice.
In the third, Connor McKay started the inning with an infield hit, and when Ka’iana Eldredge tried to put down a sacrifice bunt down the first base line, WVU first baseman Ryan McBroom was fooled waiting for the ball to roll foul.
It never did on the artificial surface, and KU found itself with runners on first and second with nobody out.
Musgrave never panicked. He threw out the lead runner at third when Tucker Tharp bunted back to the mound, got leadoff hitter Justin Protacio to pop up to third and then ended the inning on a fielder’s choice to preserve the shutout.
In the eighth, KU again benefited from an infield hit, when McKay led off the inning with a dribbler, and he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt.
The first baserunner to reach third on the evening was McKay, who swiped a bag, and a Tharp walk put runners on first and third with only one out.
Musgrave again buckled down, striking out Protacio and then getting Kevin Kuntz to fly to center field.
“I’ve always been taught not to show a lot of emotion when I’m pitching,” said Musgrave. “You can’t control what happens behind you. You just have to throw strikes, and that’s what I try to do.”
That was all the momentum the Mountaineer offense needed to finally break through against Kansas starter Thomas Taylor (4-1), who also came into the game without a loss in conference play.
A one-out walk to WVU shortstop Taylor Munden started the trouble, but Wilson got the big knock, blasting a triple off the fence in left-center to score Munden and break the tie.
Wilson, who finished 2-for-3 at the plate, narrowly missed a home run as his blast carried at least 370 feet into the outfield.
“I’ve been seeing the ball well as of late,” said the senior right fielder. “I got a good count, and he threw me a belt-high fastball. I just tried to make good contact, and it went further than I expected. I’m glad it dropped out there.”
The crowd roared with approval as chants of “Let’s Go Mountaineers” echoed off the stadium walls.
“It was amazing,” said Wilson. “I can’t even describe how excited I was on third base. It was one of the greatest feelings I’ve had.”
Musgrave responded by taking care of business in the ninth, sitting the Jayhawks down in order to send the fans home happy.
“We feel like if we score one run with Harrison, we have a good chance of winning,” said head coach Randy Mazey. “He’s proven that.
“Early in the season, we weren’t winning these games. But we’ve been winning games in the last inning now.”
Because of an approaching storm, the teams canceled Sunday’s scheduled game and will instead finish the series with a doubleheader today beginning at 1 p.m.
Fans with tickets for Sunday’s game are encouraged to use them today. One ticket will be good for both games.
“Our guys feed off the crowd,” said Mazey, who will send Dan Dierdorff (2-5, 4.78 ERA) and Kansas native John Means (3-2, 3.05 ERA) to the hill in the two contests. “We’re excited to come back out and show them what we can do.”
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The crowd of more than 2,000 fans was by far the largest of the year for WVU, which has played all its conference home games on the road this season. Prior to Friday’s game, a crowd of 1,095 for a doubleheader against Texas Tech at Charleston’s Appalachian Power Park was the biggest home crowd of the year for the Mountaineers.
“It was awesome playing in front of our home fans from West Virginia,” said Billy Fleming, who was 3-for-3 at the plate for the Mountaineers. “We didn’t get much of that last year, so we appreciate the support we got. We fed off that energy for sure.”
— E-mail: chuffman@
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West Virginia 1, Kansas 0
K: 000 000 000 — 0 4 0
WV: 000 000 000 — 1 6 0
K: Thomas Taylor, Jordan Piché (8) and Ka’iana Eldredge. WV: Harrison Musgrave and Alan Filauro. WP — Musgrave (6-1). LP — Taylor (4-1) Hitting — K: Alex DeLeon 1-4, Connor McKay 2-3, Ka’iana Eldredge 1-2. WV: Brady Wilson 2-3 (3B, RBI), Billy Fleming 3-3 (2B), Bobby Boyd 1-3.
Records: WV: 25-18, K: 25-16.