Mountaineers drop season opener, despite career outing from Alek Manoah
Kennesaw, GA – The Mountaineers kicked off the 2019 season with a bang as the offense struck early with a triple from Darius Hill and was knocked in on an RBI groundout from newcomer Paul McIntosh in the top of the first inning.
The Owls awoke in the bottom of the third with a leadoff double from Jaylen Smith, then the next batter was hit by a fastball up and in around the hands. David Chabut bunted for a base hit as Alek Manoah was unable to make a tough play on the ball which loaded the bases. However, Manoah was unable to get out of the bases loaded jam by striking out two and getting a fielders choice put out at home.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Kennesaw’s Brooks Buckler reached on base with a throwing error from third baseman Kevin Brophy. Alex Carballo sent a flare into right field that scored Buckler and tied up the game 1-1. The inning ended with Mountaineers catcher Ivan Gonzalez throwing out a base runner at second.
The Mountaineers retook the lead in the 6th as Doanes and Inman got on via hits and McIntosh reach on base on balls, which loaded the bases up for catcher Ivan Gonzalez. Gonzalez sent a shot into the left center field gap scoring two and giving West Virginia a 3-1 lead.
Bottom of the 6th inning got started with a leadoff double from Tyler Simon and was knocked in to score following a base hit by Garrett Hodges to right field cutting the lead back down to one. Manoah got back to work and struck out the side following the run scored.
The sixth inning would close the books on Manoah’s phenomenal opening day start as he went six innings, giving up 5 hits, 1 earned run and struckout a career high 13 battters. Manoah’s previous career high was seven.
Nick Snyder came on in relief for the Mountaineers in the bottom of the 7th and struggled with control walking the bases loaded. Head coach Randy Mazey had seen enough from Snyder as he started off the next batter with a ball way outside and made the switch to freshman Beau Lowery.
The Owls took advantage of the situation by scoring on an error by 2nd baseman Tyler Doanes and then Garrett Hodges singled scoring Tyler Simon giving Kennesaw a 5-3 lead.
The West Virginia bats stayed silent for the second straight inning, but thanks to a clean 8th inning from Beau Lowery, it kept the Mountaineers within striking distance heading to the top of the ninth.
Andrew Zitel started off the ninth with a shot into left field, but that’s about all the excitement that happened in the inning as Tristen Hudson lined out to first and resulted in doubling up the base runner.
The Mountaineers fall 5-3 in the season opener.
“They played hard, we played hard. I think there were some first game jitters. We’re going to play almost all close games. You got to be able to do the things in baseball that help you win games and that’s throw strikes and play defense and hit at the right time. I thought we got some good hits, just didn’t play defense and throw strikes when we needed too.” Coach Mazey said following the loss.
Alek Manoah was a definite bright spot in today’s game according to Coach Mazey, “We knew he was going to be like that, he’s been throwing the ball really well all spring. He’s a strike thrower now and he’s going to give us a chance to win every time he goes out there.”
West Virginia will take on Georgia State tomorrow at noon and Sundays game vs Georgia Tech will be moved to tomorrow at 6pm.