The West Virginia University baseball team collected 15 runs on 17 hits in a 15-8 win over Canisius on Tuesday, Feb. 18, at Monongalia County Ballpark in the team’s 2020 home opener.
Seven Mountaineers registered an RBI in the squad’s home-opening triumph, while five recorded multiple hits. WVU scored runs in five innings, including six in the bottom of the sixth.
Freshman catcher/infielder Matt McCormick led the way, going 4-of-6 with a towering home run and three RBIs, while redshirt senior outfielder Braden Zarbnisky finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored, two stolen bases and two RBIs.
“Zarb is just a great college player – both sides of the baseball,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “He’s super valuable, and he never gets rattled. He’s been around for five years now and knows the ropes pretty well. And having Matt McCormick start to swing the bat well is really going to help us down the stretch.”
Additionally, sophomore infielder/outfielder Austin Davis tallied three hits, including a triple, for WVU (3-1), while senior infielder Kevin Brophy and junior infielder Tyler Doanes each had two.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Tim Wynia earned the win in his WVU debut. The Plano, Texas, native came out of the bullpen to collect two strikeouts in the top of the fifth.
After Canisius (1-3) scored twice in the top of the first, West Virginia got on the board in the bottom half when McCormick hit an RBI single to make it 2-1.
In the second, Doanes hit a two-run single to give WVU the lead, before McCormick’s solo home run added to the score line. The Mountaineers scored twice more in the third, featuring an RBI triple by Davis and a run-producing single by Zarbnisky. That made it a 6-2 game.
On the mound, freshman right-handed pitcher Skylar Gonzalez was effective out of the bullpen, allowing no runs or hits in 3.2 innings of work. He also struck out five in his collegiate debut.
A four-run, top of the fifth inning for the Golden Griffins tied the game at 6, before the Mountaineers answered with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame. Zarbnisky tripled, scoring Davis, before Doanes crossed home plate on a wild pitch and McCormick brought home another run on an RBI single.
But Canisius made it a 9-8 game with two runs in the top of the sixth, moments before WVU put the contest away with a six-spot in the bottom half.
The Mountaineers stole five bases in the frame – and seven for the game – earning runs on an RBI single by freshman outfielder/first baseman Tyler DeMartino, a bunt single by sophomore infielder Tevin Tucker, which plated two runs, a balk, an RBI single by Doanes and an infield single by Scott, which gave WVU a 15-8 lead.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Madison Jeffrey struck out three in an inning of work in the eighth, before redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Noah Short finished it off with a scoreless ninth.
Tuesday marked the earliest home opener in program history. It also was just the team’s second February home game ever.
Six of WVU’s seven pitchers on the night are newcomers, and five of them – Gonzalez, freshman right-hander Carter Lyles, Wynia, freshman right-hander Jacob Watters and Short – all made their collegiate debuts on Tuesday.
Next up, WVU travels to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for the Brittain Resorts Invitational, from Feb. 21-24. The squad is set to open the four-game event against Kennesaw State on Friday, Feb. 21, at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Park.