Catcher Paul McIntosh provided West Virginia will the offensive spark it needed Sunday afternoon, launching a game-winning home run in the 11th inning against Mercer.
The rubber match between the Mountaineers (10-5) and Bears (12-3) was a low-scoring affair dominated by pitching as both lineups combine for only three runs and nine hits in the 11 innings affair.
Freshman Jake Carr (2-1) started on the mound for West Virginia, turning in a strong performance. The left-hander allowed one unearned run on three hits in 4.2 innings while striking out five.
Mercer’s run came in the second inning when center fielder Bill Knight hit a double advanced to third on a wild pitch and was driven in on a single by CJ Keckler.
The Bears’ starter was right-hander Taylor Lobus (1-0). Lobus pitched four full innings, allowing one run on one hit and three walks.
WVU’s run came in the fourth when designated hitter Vince Ippoliti walked and later scored on a double by freshman Matt McCormick. It was McCormick’s ninth RBI of the season.
After Carr’s 4.2 innings, Zach Ottinger, Madison Jeffrey and Haden Erbe combined for 4.1 scoreless innings to push the game into extras tied at 1-1.
The Mountaineers got runners on the corners with two outs in the top of the tenth, but pinch hitter Jackson Wolf struck out to end the threat. Senior Braden Zarbnisky (1-0) took the mound for WVU in extras, stranding two Mercer runners in the bottom of the 10th.
With two outs in the top of the 11th, McIntosh hit a home run to center field to put WVU ahead 2-1. Zarbnisky came back out for the bottom of the inning, walking the lead-off hitter, but striking out two to close the game and secure the win for West Virginia.
West Virginia will return to Mon County Ballpark this week for a game against Liberty on Wednesday at 3 p.m. The Mountaineers will then travel to Lubbock, Texas for a three-game series against the Texas Tech Red Raiders.