JJ Wetherholt Steals Win as Mountaineers Defeat Arizona 6-5 in 11 Innings
West Virginia moved above .500 for the first time this season, claiming a 6-5 victory against the Arizona Wildcats. A late Arizona comeback sent the game to extra innings, and JJ Wetherholt stole home in the eleventh to give the score the go-ahead run.
Arizona led off the home half of the first with back-to-back extra base hits, a triple and an RBI double. Starting pitcher Ben Hampton allowed two more baserunners, and the Wildcats stretched the lead to 2-0 with another double. The play could’ve scored more were it not for a 9-6-2 relay to nail a runner at home.
Center fielder Braden Barry drew a walk to lead off the third. West Virginia drew even a batter later when second baseman JJ Wetherholt roped his first home run of the season over the right field wall to make it 2-2.
The Wildcats took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the inning, trading places with a pair of doubles. Hampton steadied from there to begin a streak of 11 retired batters.
Small ball gave the Mountaineers the lead in the sixth. Garcia and first baseman Sam White hit a pair of singles, then shortstop Tevin Tucker moved them into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Barry brought them home with a third single to go ahead 4-3 as the Mountaineers chased Wildcats starter TJ Nichols from the game.
West Virginia followed a similar format in the seventh, adding a run to make it 5-3. The first two runners reached, a bunt moved them over and third baseman Ellis Garcia brought in a run with a groundout.
Hampton got the hook with two outs in the seventh after allowing a pair of singles. Sophomore Aidan Major entered with the go-ahead run at the plate, but induced a flyout to send it to the eighth.
West Virginia tied the game with a pair of runs in the eighth, scoring on a sacrifice fly and a bases-loaded walk.
McNeely hit a one-out triple to put the go-ahead run 90 feet away in the ninth, but he got doubled off third after Logan Suave lined out to first.
West Virginia committed two errors in the bottom of the ninth, but Allen still managed to pitch a scoreless frame and send the game to extras.
Wetherholt manufactured a run to take a 6-5 lead in the eleventh, leading off with a double before stealing third and home.
HE STOLE HOME! JJ STOLE HOME!!
Mountaineers lead 6-5 in the 11th!#HailWV | @jj_wetherholt pic.twitter.com/pRbX9ngLFe
— WVU Baseball (@WVUBaseball) February 25, 2023
Junior flamethrower Carlson Reed turned in his second scoreless inning in relief as West Virginia hung on for the victory.
The Mountaineers look to take the series, with game two beginning at 5pm ET on Saturday, February 25.