It took an extra inning, but West Virginia baseball came away with a 5-3, opening day win over Georgia State Friday afternoon. Playing their first game in nearly a full calendar year, the Mountaineers traveled south to Atlanta, Georgia for the first of a four-game series against the Panthers to open the 2021 season.
Senior left-hander Jackon Wolf took the ball for WVU head coach Randy Mazey, making his second consecutive opening day start. Opposing him was Georgia State sophomore righty Ryan Watson.
The Panthers struck first against Wolf, scoring on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the first inning after Wolf had already walked two GSU batter and hit another. WVU responded immediately, however, when sophomore first baseman Matt McCormick tied the score with his first home run of the season.
GSU would get another run off Wolf in the bottom of the third on an RBI single, but the Mountaineers again responded quickly, this time on an RBI double by catcher Paul McIntosh that scored McCormick.
Wolf, a preseason All-American threw five full innings, allowing two earned runs on one hit with four walks and seven strikeouts. He also hit two batters. Watson matched Wolf’s five innings, also allowing two runs and striking out seven.
WVU took its first lead of the game in the top of the sixth on a bases-loaded walk by McIntosh and it was Georgia State with the quick response this time, tying the game at three on another RBI single. The Panthers got a man in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth with just one out, but junior reliever Madison Jeffery came in a struck out the next two batters to get WVU out of the jam and send the game into extras.
In the top of the 10th, shortstop Tyler Doanes got on base via a one-out single to left and left fielder Vince Ippoliti sent a two-run home run over the left field fence to give the Mountaineers a 5-3 lead. Jeffery retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning, securing the victory for West Virginia.
Ippoliti finished 1 for 4 with the home run and two RBI, Doanes went 3 for 4 with a run scored, McCormick was 2 for 5 with the home run, one RBI and two runs scored and McIntosh finished 1 for 4 with a double and two RBI.
Designated hitter Hudson Byorick made his WVU debut, hitting leadoff and going 2 for 5 with a double and a run scored. Doanes slid over to shortstop after playing second base each of the last two seasons as a replacement for the injured Tevin Tucker and true freshman Mikey Kluska got the start at second for his collegiate debut.
Jeffery pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts and was credited with the win. Zach Ottinger (one run in two innings) and Skylar Gonzalez (1 1/3 scoreless) also worked out of the WVU bullpen.
WVU will continue its series against the Panther with a doubleheader tomorrow afternoon. First pitch for game one will be at 1 p.m. with WVU’s Jake Carr facing GSU’s Seth Clark. Game two is scheduled for 5 p.m. and will feature Adam Tulloch making his WVU debut against Georgia State’s Cameron Jones.