The West Virginia University baseball team used a five-run first inning to its advantage in a 13-4 win over William & Mary on Saturday afternoon at Plumeri Park in Williamsburg, Virginia.
In the Mountaineers’ second of three games in the Central Virginia Challenge this weekend, WVU’s bats came alive early and stayed hot throughout the contest. West Virginia finished with 13 runs on 15 hits in the victory over the Tribe.
“We’ve been getting guys on base in the first (inning),” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “I think we had multiple guys on base in the first inning in four of the five games we’ve lost and couldn’t drive them in. So, we shuffled the lineup a little bit, got the right guys in the right spots, and the five in the first set the tone for the whole game.”
Along with the five runs in the first, WVU (6-4) brought a run home in the second, three in the third, one in the seventh and three in the eighth.
WVU jumped on the hosts early when redshirt sophomore catcher Vince Ippoliti tallied a two-run double to make it 2-0. Then, junior catcher/designated hitter Paul McIntosh registered a bases-clearing double to right, scoring three more runs to give the Mountaineers a 5-0 advantage.
WVU added a sixth run in the top of the second inning on an RBI groundout by junior infielder Tyler Doanes to make it 6-0. From there, William & Mary (3-7) battled back, scoring four in the bottom of the second to cut the Mountaineers’ lead to just two.
But the Mountaineers answered with three more runs in the third, highlighted by a two-run single by redshirt senior outfielder/right-handed pitcher Braden Zarbnisky. Prior to that, West Virginia brought its first run of the frame across when McIntosh hit a sacrifice fly.
WVU led, 9-4.
After and up-and-down first two innings, sophomore right-handed pitcher Ryan Bergert settled in in the third. The Canton, Ohio, native retired 10 straight batters at one point from the second to the fifth, getting himself into the sixth inning. In all, he allowed four runs on four hits in 5.2 innings, striking out six and earning the win to improve his season record to 2-0.
“He gave up four runs in the second inning, which is really uncharacteristic of him,” Mazey said of Bergert. “But when we needed to buckle down and be good, he did it. He showed some leadership to have the ability to go out there and make adjustments while you’re pitching. He figured some things out that weren’t going well in the first two innings, and that’s just a credit to him.”
McIntosh’s second sacrifice fly of the day gave the Mountaineers a 10-4 lead in the top of the seventh, before they put up three more in the eighth. Doanes and Ippoliti each recorded RBI singles, while Brophy helped tack on another run on a fielder’s choice.
Meanwhile, sophomore right-handed pitcher Zach Ottinger was solid out of the bullpen, allowing just one hit in 2.1 innings of work. He struck out four, before freshman right-handed pitcher Carter Lyles pitched a clean ninth inning with three strikeouts.
McIntosh finished with a season-high five RBIs in the win, while Zarbnisky went 4-for-5 with two doubles, two runs scored, two stolen bases and two RBIs. Additionally, Ippoliti tallied three hits and three RBIs, while Doanes went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a pair of RBIs.
Redshirt freshman first baseman Alec Burns and freshman infielder/outfielder Dominic Ragazzo earned their first career hit in the victory, which secured the Mountaineers’ fourth winning record in the month of February in the last five seasons.
Next up, West Virginia concludes the Central Virginia Challenge with a trip to Richmond on Sunday, March 1. First pitch at the Spiders’ Pitt Field is set for 12 p.m. ET.