The West Virginia University baseball team fell to Jacksonville, 4-3, on Saturday afternoon at John Sessions Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida.
In the second game of the two squads’ season-opening, three-game series, the Mountaineers held a 3-2 lead in the eighth before allowing three Dolphin runs in the bottom half of the inning, which proved to be the difference.
After a run-producing double, JU hit a two-run home run to grab the one-run lead. From there, the hosts turned WVU away in the ninth to even up the series at a game apiece.
“Late in games, when you play on the road, you can’t afford to make mistakes,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “That gives the other team a ton of energy, the crowd gets into it, and all of a sudden, they are right back in the game.
“I think we had guys in scoring position in seven of the nine innings, and we left a ton of guys stranded out there. We’re doing a good job of getting on base, we’re just not doing a very good job of getting them in. But we’ll figure that out; our goal is to become a better team with every game we play.”
Sophomore infielder/outfielder Austin Davis led the Mountaineers (1-1) with three hits, two RBIs and two stolen bases, while freshman outfielder Victor Scott went 2-for-4 with a pair of triples and two runs scored.
The Powder Springs, Georgia, native became the first Mountaineer to hit two triples in a game since Austin Markel on May 21, 2009, against Pitt.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Ryan Bergert got the start for West Virginia, tossing six innings, allowing just one run and four hits. Bergert struck out four and walked two on 93 pitches in a no decision.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Madison Jeffrey took the loss for WVU.
West Virginia left the bases loaded in the top of the first, after redshirt senior outfielder Braden Zarbnisky and freshman catcher/infielder Matt McCormick earned base hits, before sophomore infielder Ryan Archibald walked. But the Dolphins got out of the jam with a two-out, come-backer to the mound.
WVU did score in the second inning, however, after Scott’s first triple led off the frame. Sophomore infielder Tevin Tucker brought him home with a single through the right side to make it 1-0.
In the bottom half, Bergert tallied his first two strikeouts of the afternoon. The Canton, Ohio, native also came away unscathed after JU got a runner to third base in the third. Bergert got a pop out to end the inning.
From there, Jacksonville (1-1) tied the game in the fourth inning when a Dolphin runner was called safe on a play at the plate. That evened the contest at 1.
The Mountaineers stranded runners on third in the fourth and fifth innings but got their second lead of the afternoon in the sixth. That’s when Davis singled home Scott to make it 2-1.
WVU added to its lead in the eighth, when Davis registered his second RBI of the day, scoring senior infielder Kevin Brophy from second base on a line drive that deflected off the JU pitcher and into the outfield.
With a two-run lead in the bottom half, freshman right-handed pitcher Tyler Strechay, who made his Mountaineer debut on Saturday and retired the Dolphins in order in the seventh inning, allowed a one-out, RBI double to make it a 3-2 game.
Then, the Dolphins homered off Jeffrey to grab the lead and eventual victory.
Along with Davis and Scott, Zarbnisky also registered a pair of hits for the Mountaineers. It marked his second consecutive multi-hit game to begin the 2020 campaign.
Next up, the Mountaineers look to win the series on Sunday afternoon. First pitch, which was originally scheduled for 1 p.m. ET, has been moved back to 12 p.m., at John Sessions Stadium.