A walk-off walk lifted the West Virginia University baseball team to a 4-3, series-clinching victory against No. 11 Texas Tech in front of a record-setting crowd at Monongalia County Ballpark on Saturday afternoon.
The Mountaineers (22-12, 6-5 Big 12) secured their third series win in a row, all against top-25 teams, and have won four consecutive games and eight of their last nine. WVU will go for the series sweep on Sunday, with first pitch against the Red Raiders (22-11, 5-6 Big 12) moved up an hour to noon ET, at Monongalia County Ballpark.
“We’ve been waiting for this opportunity, I have, for a walk-off win,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “We’re 11-1 at home now, but we haven’t had the opportunity to walk anybody off like that. Going into the bottom of the ninth tied, that’s a good feeling. You can’t lose, you can only win. I’m proud of the guys. (Freshman shortstop Tevin) Tucker at the bottom of the lineup and (sophomore second baseman Tyler) Doanes at the top, those guys get on base, and they love to run. They love to have fun on the baseball field, and that’s what it’s all about. We started playing pretty well a couple weeks ago when the weather got warm, and we knew that was going to happen. Now, we’re feeling pretty good about ourselves.”
The win came in front of 3,494 fans, the largest home crowd in program history. That passed the previous record of 3,487, set 10 days ago, on April 3, in a 5-4 win over Pitt.
“What a great atmosphere,” Mazey added. “Whatever it takes for people to come and see that we’re a fun team to watch. We love to run. We love to hit. We have great pitching. We’re exciting to watch on defense. You can see web gems and highlight reel plays all the time. If you like baseball, this is a great team to watch.”
West Virginia scored the game-winning run on a bases-loaded, four-pitch walk with one out in the ninth inning to junior designated hitter Marques Inman. The walk-off came after a walk, single and intentional walk loaded the bases.
The Mountaineers took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, but The Red Raiders rallied with a run in the fourth and two in the top of the fifth to take a 3-2 lead. However, WVU answered right back in the bottom half of the fifth to tie the game at 3-3.
Inman and senior third baseman Ivan Gonzalez each had two hits and two RBIs, while Inman added a run scored to go along with his game-winning walk.
On the mound, four Mountaineer pitchers held TTU to three runs on nine hits. Sophomore left-handed starter Jackson Wolf allowed three runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings before three relievers combined to give up just one run in the final 4.2 innings. Junior right-hander Sam Kessler pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn the win and improve to 2-2 on the season.
For the sixth consecutive game and the 26th time this year, WVU scored first, with two runs in the first inning. It marked the seventh time in the last nine games and the 19th time in 2019 that the Mountaineers plated at least a run in the first inning.
The frame began with a leadoff single by sophomore second baseman Tyler Doanes, and junior center fielder Brandon White followed with a single through the left side. A one-out double steal set up Inman, who grounded out to score Doanes. Gonzalez then doubled home White with two outs.
Wolf left a runner on in the first, second and third innings before the Red Raiders got on the board with a run in the fourth. The run scored on a groundout.
Texas Tech took its first lead of the series with two runs in the top of the fifth inning to go ahead 3-2 on three singles. Freshman right-hander Zach Ottinger relieved Wolf and got a strikeout and groundout to end the inning and leave two on.
West Virginia wasted no time tying the game, with a run in the bottom of the fifth to make it 3-3. The rally came with two outs, as Inman singled and scored from second on an RBI single to right by Gonzalez.
Ottinger pitched a perfect sixth and sophomore right-hander Tristen Hudson came in to get the final two outs of the seventh and leave two on. Junior righty Dillon Meadows followed with a scoreless eighth inning, with the help of a double play and a strikeout.
Kessler added a 1-2-3 ninth inning before the Mountaineers walked it off.
Freshman shortstop Tevin Tucker led off the inning with a four-pitch walk, and an infield single by Doanes put two on. After a strikeout, senior right fielder Darius Hill was issued an intentional walk to load the bases. With TTU’s closer on the mound, Inman saw four consecutive balls to bring in the game-winning run.
The series concludes on Sunday, with first pitch moved up to noon, due to inclement weather expected in the area.