CONWAY, S.C. – The West Virginia University baseball team fell, 14-2, at Coastal Carolina in the Brittain Resorts Invitational finale on Sunday evening at Springs Brooks Stadium in Conway, South Carolina.
The Mountaineers took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning before allowing the host Chanticleers to score runs in the first and second to grab momentum. Coastal Carolina went on to plate four runs in the seventh and eight in the eighth to break the game open.
WVU finished with two runs on eight hits, while Coastal tallied 14 runs on 13 hits. The Mountaineers committed two errors, to the Chanticleers’ four.
“We’re still trying to figure it out; we’re not going to panic by any means,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “It’s a long season, and we know we’re going to get better as the season goes – there’s never been a season where we haven’t done that.”
In the second game of the squad’s two-opponent doubleheader on Sunday, West Virginia (5-3) opened the scoring in the top of the first when junior catcher Paul McIntosh registered an RBI single to right, scoring redshirt senior outfielder Braden Zarbnisky, who began the contest with a single up the middle.
But Coastal (4-3) answered in the bottom half of the inning, evening the score at 1 on a run scored during a Mountaineer double play. Then, CCU took the lead in the second on a two-out, RBI single to right field, giving it a 2-1 advantage.
From there, freshman right-handed pitcher Skylar Gonzalez relived freshman right-handed pitcher Tyler Strechay, who got the start for the Mountaineers, in the third inning. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native was effective, tossing 2.2 innings of no-hit ball while issuing three strikeouts.
At the plate, WVU stranded a runner on third in the top of the sixth and seventh to allow Coastal to maintain the one-run lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, however, the Chanticleers scored four times to make it a 6-1 game. West Virginia, though, loaded the bases in the top of the eighth inning but only got within four of the lead when senior infielder Kevin Brophy produced an RBI ground out.
Coastal engineered an eight-run eighth inning to put the game out of reach.
Zarbnisky finished 2-for-4 against CCU and tallied six total hits between the two games on Sunday. Additionally, freshman outfielder Chris Klein recorded his first career hit when he led off the top of the seventh with a single to left.
The Mountaineers used nine pitchers in the affair, including two – sophomore right-handed pitcher Brock Helverson and freshman right-handed pitcher Jimmy Starnes – who made their season debut.
“We’re still trying to find where the pieces fit,” Mazey said. “Opportunities are few and far between in close games, so, when you get one, you have to take advantage of it. If you take advantage of one opportunity, another comes along pretty quickly.”
WVU, which fell to Illinois, 2-1, earlier on Sunday, finished an even 2-2 at the Brittain Resorts Invitational.
Next up, the Mountaineers travel to Richmond, Virginia, to take on VCU on Friday, Feb. 28, in the opening game of the Virginia Challenge, which commences from Feb. 28-March 1. First pitch at The Diamond is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET.