Two freshman pitchers for WVU combined to throw a one-hit shutout against the Big 12’s best offense and propel WVU to the conference championship game.
Neither Ryan Bergert nor Zach Ottinger pitched more than three innings in a single outing during the regular season, yet they combined for an exceptional performance against top-seed Texas Tech, leading West Virginia to a 2-0 victory in an elimination game Saturday.
“I keep telling these guys, in a tournament situation like this, you never know when you’re gonna be needed,” said skipper Randy Mazey. “They were needed in maybe the biggest game in the history of our program and just stepped up and did yeoman’s work.”
Ottinger relieved Bergert and tossed four more shutout innings. He did not allow a hit, and only one Red Raider reached base against him.
“Words can’t express how proud I am of these guys,” said Mazey of his two freshmen.
The Mountaineers jumped in front of Tech in the top of the third inning on a Darius Hill sacrifice fly. They’d add their second run on a ground out by Marques Inman in the sixth — a double play ball that scored Brandon White.
The electric centerfielder made major impacts on numerous occasions. White ended the fifth inning with another run-saving diving catch, then proceeded to lead off the top of the sixth with a single to right. He later stole second, then advanced to third on an overthrow, before coming home to score on the Inman grounder.
White went 3-for-3 with a walk in the 2-0 WVU victory.
“I’ve been telling people for three years that he’s the best centerfielder I’ve ever coached, and now everybody is starting to see it,” said Mazey. “He just changes the game, you know? It’s hard to do that.”
While West Virginia (37-19, 13-11) advances to the Big 12 championship game, it still doesn’t know its opponent for the scheduled 2 p.m. ET contest.
Oklahoma State and TCU will play an elimination game at 10 a.m. ET to determine the Mountaineers’ championship opponent. That game was supposed to be played Saturday night, but was bumped to Sunday due to severe weather.
West Virginia’s semifinal victory also strengthens its bid to host an NCAA regional for the first time in program history. The Mountaineers are now 4-2 against Tech — the regular season conference champ — and they’re the only team to shutout the Red Raiders this season.
After Saturday, they’ve now done that twice.
“We’ll put 4,000 or 5,000 in our stadium, and they’ll be chanting and screaming, ‘Let’s go, Mountaineers,’” said Mazey of the prospect of hosting a regional. “That would be one of the best atmospheres in all of college baseball.”
Watch West Virginia’s full postage press conference below, and see the highlights from the win at the top of the page: